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Episode 133: Automate and Achieve: Melanie Meier on Streamlining Real Estate Processes

Join Brian Charlesworth, founder of Sisu, and Melanie Meier, COO of the Atkinson Team at eXp Realty and Co-founder of Real Estate Growth Solutions, as they discuss Melanie's unique role in the Canadian Real Estate industry, sharing the intricacies of the Canadian real estate market, the transformative power of automation with Sisu, and the nuances of real estate coaching.

Brian Charlesworth

Brian Charlesworth

Chairman & CEO

Brian is a highly accomplished entrepreneur, business builder, and thought leader in the real estate industry. With a track record of success in software, telecommunications, and franchise businesses, Brian has a talent for identifying and realizing business opportunities. Driven by his passion for technology, Brian is dedicated to using his skills and experience to bring about positive change and improve people's lives through the advancement of technology.

 

 

Melanie has a sharp focus on operations and systems, she bridges critical gaps in the industry. Her team's structured onboarding, enriched by a comprehensive LMS, provides agents with a robust foundation. Training spans a spectrum, from hands-on demos by co-founders setting appointments to strategies for dealing with buyers and sellers. This dual approach not only empowers their agents but also enhances the value they offer to their coaching clients.

Melanie also emphasizes the "We" philosophy, where team unity is paramount. This philosophy ensures that everyone has each other's back and contributes positively to the overall team dynamic. Also, she shares an interesting tidbit on working with a partner in real estate – clarity in roles and communication is vital.

A game-changer in their operations has been Sisu, which streamlined their processes. From transaction coordination to agent performance analytics, it's been indispensable. Further, automation's role can't be downplayed. With systems in place for tasks like client gifting, the agents can focus on what they do best: prospecting and closing deals.

Top Takeaways:

         (2:39) Why is Canada's real estate market different? 

(4:37) The secret behind Melanie's recruitment strategy

(7:21) Team dynamics: the "we" over "i" philosophy

(9:28) Can couples thrive in the real estate business?

(12:48) The Sisu impact on real estate operations

(15:47) The power of automation in real estate

(18:52) How to prepare for a slowing real estate market? 

(20:19) What is "Real Estate Growth Solutions" all about? 

(23:44) How to retain top talent in real estate? 

(24:55) What is the hierarchy of priorities in your team? 

(25:28) Are you doing enough in today's real estate economy? 

(26:34) Importance of children's advocacy centers

Interested in gaining a fresh perspective on real estate coaching? Dive into this episode to understand the philosophy behind Real Estate Growth Solutions and the individuals driving its success. Their approach to growth, training, and client relationships offers invaluable lessons for anyone in the industry. Tune in and get inspired!

About Melanie Meier

Melanie Meier is the COO of the Atkinson Team at eXp Realty and a co-founder of Real Estate Growth Solutions. With a keen understanding of the Canadian real estate market, she has harnessed automation tools like Sisu to optimize operations. Melanie's background includes 8 years in private career colleges, showcasing her dedication to education and training.

Known for her meticulous attention to detail and organizational skills, she's recognized for her talent in fostering relationships and leading teams effectively. Melanie's expertise extends to crafting policies and strategies, and she's highly valued for her independent work ethic.

Connect with them Today! 

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Melanie Meier Atkinson Team

Real Estate Growth Solutions

Episode Transcript:

Brian Charlesworth  00:35

All right. Hello, everyone. And welcome back to the Grit Podcast. I'm Brian Charlesworth, and the founder of Sisu, and your host of the show. And today, I'm here with Melanie Meier, she and her husband, Ron and exp team is that right? You guys are married, right? 

Melanie Meier  00:51

Yeah, yeah, we're married. Yeah. 

Brian Charlesworth  00:52

Do you want to talk about your team, how many agents you have your volume, stuff like that they're based up in Canada, Calgary, I believe. And just in that mode of growing in a in a market, you know, that's declining. So super fun to see. Anytime I get an opportunity. I meet with a lot of Sisu teams, and I get to see how many of them are actually increasing their business, even though the real estate industry as a whole is declining as far as number of transactions. And so I think we are at about a 40% decline this year, so far and number of agents out there. And what's happening is the agents that are around even a lot of them that they used to do really well on their own are now moving over to teams like Melanie's. So anyway, Melanie, welcome to the show. We're happy to have you here today. 

Melanie Meier  01:40

Thank you so much. It's super exciting to be here. Yeah, we're actually in southern Alberta. So we're about 45 minutes from the Montana border. Okay. And our main office where we started was in Lethbridge, Alberta to population about 100,000. Our average price point is around 300. And we moved down into medicine had about six years ago. I'm originally from Medicine Hat. That's where my family is. And since we were there all the time, we thought, Well, why don't we just start a team up in medicine that that's two hours away. So that's been running, and we just opened up our Calgary markets. A year ago, we had somebody approached us that wanted to join the team, and she was a great leader. And so we've started a team there, we're up to 50 agents between all three cities, and continuing to grow. So the Calgary team is the one that we're going to start growing the most just because it's got a larger population of over a million people Medicine Hat sitting at about 60,000. 

Brian Charlesworth  02:39

Okay, so you've got a population of 60,000 100,000 and a million. So it's fun to see, it's fun to see people like you guys who are now building these expansion teams across, I want to say across the country, but across your country. But what do you think the key to you guys being able to grow in this down market has been, 

Melanie Meier  02:59

we haven't seen the same turmoil that America has seen being in, in Canada, we have a bit more of a roller coaster. When Courtney got into the industry about 13 years ago, he had just hit missed that boom and went right into that slagging market. So we're used to a buyers market, we had our first seller's market during COVID. For our entire time with being in real estate, it was our first time where we had like, easy real estate to say it that way. And so this isn't really a change. For us. This is where we're somewhat comfortable. We're used to the grind, we're used to the prospecting. We're used to having to do things a little bit harder in order to keep our volume up and to retain and attract agents. 

Brian Charlesworth  03:44

So you guys have been in the business how long now? 13 years. Okay. Yeah. 

Melanie Meier  03:48

So started on a Team A, he had a full time job at the university here. And, you know, something happened with his boss where he was like, I'm never going to work for anybody again, he left that went to a team in real estates, and then eventually just started his own team. I've always been in the background doing operations. So he, you know, he does the agent side of things, and I do the system and administration side of things working on ops. But we do work closely together to have you know, the same type of growth mindsets community, and just where we want to go. Yeah, we just work differently. 

Brian Charlesworth  04:24

So Courtney's the public figure, He's the face of the company, he does the recruiting, I'm guessing as well as the training of agents holding them accountable, all that stuff. Is that correct? Or do you guys have a separate recruiter in your business? 

Melanie Meier  04:37

No. So we run things through our wise hire, and so he'll do information sessions. And, you know, like, a lot of people that are in sales, it's, you know, they talk about a lot, they get really excited. And so a lot of times if he's meeting with people, you know, they'll tell him what they want to hear. So our recruitment process is actually where they come to me as a secondary. So let me with Courtney, he'll get them fired up. And then they'll be directed to attend one of our trainings to see if it's a good fit. And then they'll reach out to me, I'll meet with them and invite some of our agents to meet the person as well. And if they feel like they're going to be a good fit, then we'll invite them into the team, if they don't feel like they're going to be a good fit. You know, one of the great things about EXP and real is that you can just maybe work with them on the side doing independent and helping them succeed there. Yeah. Yeah, great. So so 

Brian Charlesworth  05:26

some of the people you'll bring in, you'll bring them to exp to your brokerage, you'll help them there, some of them are a better fit for your team. And you'll you'll give them far more support because they're in your team. 

Melanie Meier  05:37

Yeah, exactly. What we've learned is that if somebody comes, I'm sure you found this too. If somebody comes from money, they'll leave for money. If they come in talking poorly about their primary relationship, they'll talk poorly about the team. And so we'll typically just slide those people over into independent versus Team. Totally makes 

Brian Charlesworth  05:55

sense. Yes. Okay. So you're over systems, then you handle the systems, technology, operations, marketing, it sounds like probably tell me what you're over. 

Melanie Meier  06:05

Yeah. So according I share marketing, so he's really good at the tech stuff, right. So in terms of how things should look what that should do, what he should say, and the content that gets put out there. Like he's excellent at that. I'm really good at branding. And so you know, we went through a rebrand when we went from, you know, Atkinson associates with Century 21. To and Associates Realty or Atkinson Realty to Atkinson team. At exp, I kind of stepped in about, you know, five years ago or so, and shifted what the brand was, and developed a mission statement, a vision statement, that was a reflection of who we were as people. And you know, one of the things with teams is like, it's great having a team, but we didn't want the competition, we didn't want agents to be side eyeing each other or being aggressive with one another. And so when we made the decision to like, rebrand, and a sense with like, we are community builders, what that did is we're constantly talking about we, you know, we're not I so if you have an agent on the team, you know, it's like, make your prospecting calls, if you can work that lead, then put it back, because you don't want to take it from another agent who is looking for that opportunity. You know, so I'd say like, one of my biggest contributions within the team has been that that rebrand of what it is that we stand for as people as a team, as community members as a whole. 

Brian Charlesworth  07:32

Okay, so just out of curiosity, you came into the business, Courtney, you've been in the business 13 years, you've now been in the business five years, you jumped into the business, what is your background prior to joining into real estate? 

Melanie Meier  07:47

Yeah, so I've always kind of helped him behind the scenes administrative wise, like when he had started his team, I was lucky enough to have a position with a private Vocational College where I could work anywhere I wanted. And so I would sit at the office and work on my stuff while he was in real estate. So I could oversee the administration in that sense. Once we had our second child, we made the decision that's just easier for us to be all in. And so was about seven years ago now, where we made the decision for me to be full time I dropped my high paying corporate job to be in this 100%, both of us all in with the flexibility with the kids and whatnot. It's just, you know, it's very fulfilling that way. 

Brian Charlesworth  08:28

Now, instead of a high paying corporate job, you have a higher paying real estate business. 

Melanie Meier  08:33

Yeah. And well, and you know, if you can work with your spouse, and get along, it's super rewarding. Yeah. Yeah. So before that, I was Regional Director for private vocational college, it was across Canada, the person that I worked for, he has 43 campuses across Canada. And so I was doing the like academics, liaison thing with the government bodies and whatnots working operations with the campus directors and whatnot, doing audits and all that stuff, which, you know, if we would have had a Sisu in that type of world, it would have been way easier. But you know, it was a lot of paperwork and manual audits at that time, to get a sense of where the business was. And even with the real estate team, you know, coming in here and trying to do a sense of where we were in the business system has been really helpful with doing that without me having to go to a bunch of different places. 

Brian Charlesworth  09:28

So we'll come back to see soon how you benefit from that in a minute. But I want to go back to you mentioned just, you can work with your husband, and I think that's a big F because a lot of people have a hard time working together. But there are so many people in this industry that are husband and wife teams. What advice do you have there like what has helped you guys be successful? And not just successful as a business but successful as a couple in your personal relationship? How do you keep those separated and keep that positive? Because I can see that going? in both ways, 

Melanie Meier  10:01

yeah. And I'm sure you and spring would be the same way, right? You're working so closely together. One of the things that was wicked helpful for us was, you know, staying in our own lanes. So clearly identified roles. If I wanted to go into his lane I mentioned at first, you know, I'll ask permission to talk to an agent about something, if it's, you know, within his realm, he'll do the same with the admin team, right? If he has any issues with an admin person, he'll ask permission to go and talk to that person, just so that we're always on the same page. And oftentimes, he'll just take it and talk to the agent. And I'll take it and talk to the admin a person. So setting those boundaries, setting those lanes. And then he wakes up really early in the morning, like, he just needs to be awake earlier to get his mind ready for the day, right? He's a trainer, he's a coach, he's a mentor. So he really needs to fire people up. And when I wake up at six, he's already been up for like since four. So he's had two hours of work. And it was really hard on us when he would just come in and start talking to me about work when I just woke up. So we established that timeline of like, if you want to talk about work outside of work hours, we asked permission, like, is this a good time to discuss XY dad. And we just do that for each other so that I'm not feeling like it's a problem is constantly being pushed on me when I'm just waking up. And we're able to maintain a relationship that way? 

Brian Charlesworth  11:24

That's a great idea. I mean, spring and I are not in the same business. She has her business. I have my business, we talk to each other, give each other recommendations and ask each other for advice. But it's a little bit different. Because when I was in springs business, we certainly had our challenges where I did not want to work at the office when she was at the office that just I wanted that separation. So 

Melanie Meier  11:45

yeah, I can't say it was like 100% Smooth from the get go. Like we went through a lot of learning on what works and what doesn't work. We hired a relationship coach. So Dr. Kelly Flanagan, we work with him. And so we'll have a chat, and he'll just walk us through some of our issues and have better communication. And he's been wonderful too. So I think, you know, there's no shame and having support. 

Brian Charlesworth  12:08

And based I've known that name, but Canada. 

Melanie Meier  12:12

No, he's not in Canada. I believe he's out of muscle great with geography in the States. He's near Chicago. So he's, he's in a suburb of Chicago. I worked with a lot of people in gold abundance. 

Brian Charlesworth  12:26

Are you guys in abundance? 

Melanie Meier  12:28

We were in gold pendants. Okay. Well, Courtney was in gold abundance. 

Brian Charlesworth  12:31

Okay, great. I got to go to Brett Jennings invited me to go been in ski event in Park City last year. Got to meet a lot of great people. There's a lot of great people in that. So 

Melanie Meier  12:42

yeah, and it's a great organization, Courtney was in there for probably about five or six years. 

Brian Charlesworth  12:48

Awesome. Okay, you brought up CCO, you said if they would have had Sisu, in that previous system, you were in that with the vocational colleges would have made a difference, like what has Sisu, what kind of impact is Sisu had on your business in real estate? 

Melanie Meier  13:00

Well, even just with a transaction coordination, right, oftentimes, you know, a lot of our coaching clients will go through a transitionary period where they've lost their admin person, or they're getting rid of their admin person. And without a system like Sisu, it's a little bit difficult to know where things are or where they're going to be. So with us having like our entire processes uploaded into Sisu, if somebody is sick, if somebody leaves, we can go in, take a look at where it's at. And even just to like for the agents, you know, identifying their conversion ratios on prospecting, to appointments met to deals closed, it's awesome to get a sense of where the agent is falling down and how we can help support them, right, because if they're converting super well on the phones, but then losing the mat, buyer's agency agreement, for example, it's good to know that information because you can sit down and train them the way you need to train them so that they're successful. Otherwise, you're just sort of trying to figure it out. One of the things that we also do here is, you know, Courtney will pull calls, right, so we use Yara, he'll listen to the calls, if somebody asks them to and he can dissect that call and help them with their conversion rate. If they're having issues with you know, a listing, then we'll sit them down and you know, he'll go through the listing process with them to get that closing ratio up. So it just gives you a better idea, a transparent view of your systems, your transactions where your agents are landing and help them stay motivated to close those rings. 

Brian Charlesworth  14:38

So Courtney is focused on managing the sales team, he knows their conversion ratios from Sisu. He'll then go in and listen and Ciara make sure that they're basically having the script or help them with their conversations so they can do a better job on those conversion ratios where they're weak and make sure the circles are filled up, which essentially means they're on top of their activities. Which are those lead measures in order to get more production out of them? You on the other hand, you're focused on the operational side, managing all of your contract to close processes listening to under contract processes out of Sisu. Is that correct? Well, I've 

Melanie Meier  15:15

got somebody that does that, right. So our client care team will do that. And I've found it useful to be able to pop in and see where we're at with something. And also the time saving and the money saving when it comes to automating, you know, when your photographer gets sent out, when signs need to get picked up, up until, you know, Sisu, it was all done just by whatsapp, we use whatsapp quite a bit. But with having it in one place, it's fantastic for agents to be able to go in and see where that is in the process. But also for us to know when something's going to be complete when it's scheduled for and all that. 

Brian Charlesworth  15:47

And you guys, you guys have automated it. So it's all the photography, everything's happening based on an automation saying, X number of days after I go under contract, or X number of days before closing or whatever, that's when something happens. And it's all automated, is that correct? 

Melanie Meier  16:04

So what we'll have is our client care will actually go in and task it to somebody, okay? Ask it to our assigned guy, you know, because we run the team, the agents don't have to do anything but prospecting close deals. So in terms of client gifts, you know, when we have a buyer that purchases a house, we have a painting of that house done by a local artist, and so she would get a notification that this is ready to go. So she knows to go in and get the picture and upload it and to do the painting. 

Brian Charlesworth  16:33

That's a cool closing gift. I like that. Yeah, yeah,

Melanie Meier  16:37

it's in there. She's amazing. April, Matisse. She's our local artists here. And she's done for us probably over 1000 paintings of houses. Yeah, and we've got a local Potter here who does platters that are branded and logo that we get filled with local ingredients in each market from local stores. 

Brian Charlesworth  16:57

So how many people do you have on your admin team? 

Melanie Meier  17:11

I would say so we've got two photographers, three client care project manager and other project manager that's going to be starting in the fall. 

Brian Charlesworth  17:22

And so a client care what you say client care, what did they do? 

Melanie Meier  17:25

So you would probably notice that transaction coordinator transaction 

Brian Charlesworth  17:28

coordinator, three transaction coordinators. 

Melanie Meier  17:32

Yeah, we're we're fairly deliberate with what our naming conventions. Right, so our database manager, he's considered part of admin, like we call them our relationship manager. Yeah. Because really what they're doing is managing relationships with the agents in their database and people that he's calling and then we've got marketing, a marketing person. So I've actually never spent the time to tally it up probably between 10 Like, including photographers, and we've got two people that do signs and pickups in each center. in Calgary. It's a bit different. We'll just there's companies, right. Lethbridge and medicine are a bit smaller. So we don't have the same type of businesses that will put signs up for for us, right. Whereas Calgary we just have a company out there that does 

Brian Charlesworth  18:18

  1. Yeah. Makes sense to somebody. So you have 50 agents between the three locations. Now, how many of those are in Calgary? Because I know it's brand new to you guys. 

Melanie Meier  18:30

Yeah, I would say we've got about 10 agents in Calgary right now. 

Brian Charlesworth  18:33

Okay. So with that, how many on the real estate side? How many transactions will you guys do with that admin team? You 

Melanie Meier  18:40

just share? Over 600? 

Brian Charlesworth  18:42

Okay, yeah, you guys are doing over over 600 transactions a year. That's a massive team, the massive amount to do in this market? Where were you guys at last year? Just out of curiosity, 

Melanie Meier  18:52

we were over 600. So we'll probably match what we did last year to this year, probably do a little bit more. Yeah, it's been good. Like our market is like we're used to this market, right? Like we're used to, yeah, we're market. And so what we're finding is a lot of people drop off because of, you know, like if they started in the real estate industry, when it was like really busy and 2020. Now that it's getting a little bit slower, they haven't developed the habits. It's just harder to get into those habits now and harder to get into that mindset of success. And we're just very fortunate where, you know, Courtney is all about mindset, abundance success. He actually talked to our agents in August, and said, Listen, this market coming up is going to drop, you need to start getting into better habits now if you want to make it. Yeah, he forecasted that. 

Brian Charlesworth  19:46

He got their activities up before the market came down, which more activities equals keeping them steady. Right. 

Melanie Meier  19:52

Right. Yeah, you know, and then we implemented DGMs on CRS, so we just rolled that out in January. And that just goes The agent's a little bit of a bump in terms of like, who to call what to say what to do. So that's good. 

Brian Charlesworth  20:07

So you mentioned coaching earlier. I know Courtney is coaching your agents, does he coach be outside of your company as well? Or is that just coaching within your company? 

Melanie Meier  20:19

So we've both so we have a separate real estate company, or a separate company called Real Estate grow solutions. And it's myself, Courtney, and one of our top producers Ryan wiry. And so Courtney will coach team leaders, I coach operations and systems, their admin people, and then Ryan, where he will coach to the top producing agents. So he's more of an independent agent, coach, coordinators, team lead, and then I kind of fill in that gap for systems. There's really only like one other ops based coaching platform in North America that I know of, for real estate. And so that's where I just kind of come in. I'm not advertised as much because my coaching clients are typically coming from a feeder system with Courtney and Ryan, if they have an agent, or Yeah, like a team leader or an agent that needs help, then I'll step up and walk them through processes onboarding. That's a big one, right? So we use go high level. So we've created courses for bootcamp where we've got tons of videos and assessments. And so everybody can run through that we sell that to our coaching clients so that they don't have to build their own and we put our own agents through it as well. 

Brian Charlesworth  21:31

Okay, so it's the true when an agent is getting on boarded. It's truly here's the training curriculum, you need to go through basically an LMS that they're going through getting trained as a new agent, is that correct? 

Melanie Meier  21:44

Yeah, yeah. Okay. And then we run, we run a lot of training. So we've got three hours of training for just our team on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And then we've got open training at it'd be 11, Mountain Standard Time for our coaching clients and our team. And so with that, like on Tuesday, Ryan will do live dials, he'll actually go into the CRM and usually call fizz bows and lifestyle that and set an appointment so you can listen live to him setting appointments, what he says. And then Wednesdays, we're working with buyers, Thursdays is working with sellers, the team ones on the Tuesday, Wednesday Thursdays at 10. Mountain Standard Time, they're going through pretty low level, entry level real estate questions to get them trained up fairly quickly. 

Brian Charlesworth  22:31

Okay, so if I wanted to learn more about your coaching company, where do I go to learn more about your coaching company? 

Melanie Meier  22:37

Real Estate growth? solutions.com. Okay, yeah. And we've got a Facebook page two real estate growth community that we throw things into. 

Brian Charlesworth  22:47

Okay, so everyone, that's real estate growth, solutions.com coaching on team leaders coaching on systems, as well as coaching on stuff for agents and scripting and how to actually get on and set appointments, correct? 

Melanie Meier  23:02

Yeah, yeah. And everything in between? Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Ryan, where he, he's been with us for. It's been on the team for about five years or so. And he was working part time. And this is the kind of guy Ryan where he is he called, and he said to Courtney, listen, I want to make more money. And Courtney silver, you gotta let go your job, man, like just quit your job. And he called back 10 minutes later, he said, done, quit it. I'm all in and working part time us doing 50 transactions. Like as a part time agent, he did 50 transactions, then he went full time he's doing between 70 and 80. And he still was like, I want more, I want more. And so we brought him into the coaching company. And he's a fantastic trainer, and a stellar human being. 

Brian Charlesworth  23:44

Yeah, sounds like sounds like talent, for sure. So congratulations to you guys, not only for hiring him and getting him to quit his job. So you could actually make real money, but also giving him an opportunity to grow with you guys. I think that's the problem with a lot of teams is they don't give people the ability to grow with them. So sometimes people feel like, Oh, when I get to a certain point, I'm going to leave this team. But as team leader, I think one of our biggest challenges is an I say hours and I'm not a team leader, but I live with a team leader. So But definitely, I think one of the biggest challenges is making sure that you are growing, and making sure the business is growing at a rate that it creates opportunities for your people to grow within it. 

Melanie Meier  24:29

Yeah, we're so fortunate that people continue to choose us our retention is is pretty high. You know, they know that they could go somewhere else and perhaps have cheaper splits. But, you know, in the end, they continue to choose us they continue to grow and, you know, we're growing as much as they're growing like we're just all growing together. We're not perfect. And so we learn a lot, just from learning from them. You know, I would say when we tell people that they're joining the team, you know, our priorities Are you take care of yourself, first, take care of your family, take care of your friends, take care of your clients, you know, because if you're taking care of all those people first, then you know, everything else is going to flow, right? And I would actually say the team would probably be number three. So take care of yourself, take care of your friends and family, and then take care of your team. And that helps you better take care of your clients. Yeah, that's great. 

Brian Charlesworth  25:22

So if you were to give any advice to before we change topics here, if you were to give any advice to a team leader, or an ops leader out there, like, what what is the most important thing they could be doing in today's real estate economy? 

Melanie Meier  25:38

I would say like, is it working? Like, are your conversations working? Are you prospecting enough? Like, it's really easy to sit back and just wait for the business to happen? But you have to get on the phones and make those calls? And if your closing isn't high, like what are those conversations? Like? Are you showing enough value to lead that they want to work with you? Or are you getting them to know like, and trust you? You know, we train where we're not just getting on the phone and being like, Oh, hey, is this Brian, you looking to sell house or you want to buy a house? You know, the conversate conversation starts a little bit different? Like what? What has you making a move? Like? What can we do to support you, oh, you know, you're going through a divorce and holding space for that and not just jumping to a close, but actually caring about people showing them the value and that you're not there just to help them buy or sell a house, but on a journey for some transitionary period in their life that they're trying to achieve. 

Brian Charlesworth  26:34

I love that you share that actual caring about people, because I know that's something you care about. So in these last few minutes, I know you have a very strong passion about protecting children and people who have been sexually abused. Can we talk about that for a minute? Yeah, for sure. So how did you get into this passion? And how did this become a thing for you? And I should point out, you are a director for 

Melanie Meier  27:00

this, this unit sexual assault center and 

Brian Charlesworth  27:03

say that one more time that you took sexual assault center, yeah. Okay. So tell me more about that. 

Melanie Meier  27:11

Yeah, so I was sexually abused by a stepfather of mine when I was very young, like, and it it's hard to say years, it's not like you can ask these your parents about this stuff, right? Because they carry a bit of guilt about it. I would say I was probably between the ages of like three and six, three, and seven. And when my mom found out, she took me to the to the social worker. And that room was a mahogany room. It was dark, the lady that I was talking to, you know, I didn't know her at all. She was an older lady, sat me down, handed me two dolls. And I was like, show me where he touched you tell me what he did. Right? That was my experience. So I walked out of that being, you know, a kid and said, I am never going there. Again, I don't want to be there. And you know, once you're sexually abused at that age, it just becomes easier to get sexually abused as you get older, and which is what ultimately happened, right? You know, you, you have a hard time saying no, you just go into like, a mode where you're just you just stop yourself from feeling. So what the child and youth advocacy centers do. And there's a few in Alberta, they have a beautiful building, they have people that are trained to deal with childhood sexual abuse. and they will give them a stuffy that they can take with them. They don't just go right into like, show me how he touched you. You tell your story once, and then they will take that story and give it to the courts so that you're not actually sitting in a courthouse being grilled by somebody, they take that story for you and share it with the courthouse. And so the rates of people getting convicted with childhood abuse are greater. When the child goes through this, they come out healthier, less trauma, there's more conviction rates, and the likelihood of them getting sexually abused is probably going to drop because you get the skills to say no, you just find a bit of a voice. And I would say I didn't find a voice until I was, you know, in my 20s or 30s. And even now, you know, when I was walking down the street, if somebody was following me, you know, being taught to be polite. I would just never think about crossing the streets is more important for me to remain polite and not show that I was offending that person behind me than it was to be safe for myself. Whereas once I had that mind shift, like all across the street, like I owe everything to me and my family, I owe nothing to the person that's behind me creeping me out. So that's, that's been a big thing. So I'm a massive believer in the child and youth advocacy centers. They're unbelievable people that work there. The Board of Directors, you know, they're in the same mindset of protecting vulnerable people. populations and giving their time. So it sounds like that's having

Brian Charlesworth  30:03

a massive impact on these children and families and people. I mean, this is people all ages, as we know. So the fact that the way they share that to the courts, I think that's a genius idea. 

Melanie Meier  30:17

Yeah. And one of the other things that I didn't even realize until recently, like I was in my 40s, when I found out that my parents thought that this molestation happened once. So the guy that molested me, my ex stepdad, he got one week in jail. And that was it. Because my family thought it only happened that one time, but it happened like, for, like, weekly, if not daily for years, and they just learned that. But if there was a Child and Youth Advocacy Center, then they would have just asked a bit more questions, they just would have been on the ball a bit more. Right. So I think it was a bit of a shock to my parents, I just assumed that they feared the extent of it. And so was a bit of an eye opener for both of us. And it just pushed me even more forward into wanting to see more of these Chinese advocates center getting, you know, set up 

Brian Charlesworth  31:05

Yeah, well, that's, that's amazing. And that thank you for, for just going all in and making a difference in other people's lives based on what's happened in yours. It says a lot about who you are as a person, is there anything people can do listening to this podcast, to help with this Advocacy Center? 

Melanie Meier  31:21

Well, I would say if you were to look in your own city or state, even if you just looked in Child and Youth Advocacy Center, or reached out to a sexual assault center, and donate money, a lot of times the money will go towards hiring staff, psychologists, counselors to deal with to work with the children, even something as simple as like we've dropped off a lot of stuffies to the center so that when the child comes in to have the interview, they get something that's reassuring, and they leave with that same thing. So it's not a terrible experience where they're handed this doll, they're handed something that they can have a good feeling about some strength from. So you know, that's only $20 to just drop off a stuffy? Yeah. 

Brian Charlesworth  32:07

All right. Well, thank you so much for sharing. And thank you for being on the show today. Melanie, it's great getting to know you better, and congratulations on all the success you guys continue to have. Even though it's a more challenging market for those in the US for you guys. It sounds like it's always a challenging market. Yeah. And I believe are you going to be at the EXP con coming up in Canada? 

Melanie Meier  32:31

Yeah. Courtney's actually speaking at it, so 

Brian Charlesworth  32:33

that's good to know, there's a chance I may be there as well. So if so I'll let you guys know, and we'll spend some time together while I'm excellent. Yeah, I'd love that. Okay. All right. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. If anybody wants to reach you you already shared and how to get a hold of you guys for coaching. Is that the best way to reach out to you guys? Or what's the better way to reach you? If somebody just has questions about maybe running the ops side of their business? 

Melanie Meier  32:57

Yeah, so it's melanie@atkinson.team.ca melanie@atkinson.team.ca my cell is 4037952299. 

Brian Charlesworth  33:12

Okay, Melanie, thanks so much for being on the Grit podcast. And thank you to all of our listeners for joining us on today's show. We will catch you next week. On the next episode of Grit. Thank you so much. 





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