Melissa Thornley

I recently got a chance to chat with Melissa Thornley, a personal and business coach who says she draws “the creativity out of business people, and the business out of creative people.”

Melissa is based in Chicago, and she’s brought her background in advertising and film to clients including Nike, Coca-Cola, PBS, McDonald’s, and Walgreens.

Here are highlights of our conversation.

Melissa, people think that they need a coach when there is a conflict in their lives or when they are changing a job – when is the ideal time to hire a coach?

Anytime is the ideal time to hire a coach. If your life is 100 percent hunky dory, that’s great. You’re bound to get bored and want something bigger for your life. You make an excellent point. Most people wait until the pain is too great NOT to hire a coach. It’s like waiting to go to the mechanic until your car breaks down. You can do that, but it’s got its costs.

How do you measure success with a client?

The client determines how they want to measure success. Early on, the client comes up with their plan. We work to that plan. Nothing happens without a plan. When the plan stops working, we tweak the plan so it does.

People often forget that they are a brand – how do you help clients realize that they are a brand and might need to tweak it?

Branding is about impact. How do we want to impact the world? Sometimes our impact is conscious. Sometimes it’s unconscious. The conscious part is easy. You create your brand, and it drives the results you want. If you’re not getting the results you want, it’s time to tweak your brand.

You highlight the power of relationships in one of your email newsletters and how one should reach out to a few people in their lives on a weekly basis…why is this important?

Everything comes down to relationships. Family, friendships, money, career, home, health. Anything that matters. Our relationships bring success and beauty to our lives. They need to be nurtured so they can deepen and grow. It also helps to have a diverse wide net of relationships. Get outside of your bubble. Talk to people with different opinions and backgrounds. It opens up opportunities you’d never know otherwise. 

What does a balanced life look like?

A fairy tale. Another way to beat ourselves up because we can’t seem to find it. Just hearing the phrase “work-life balance” makes me throw up a little, because it doesn’t exist.

Pause. Look at what’s important to you.  Make sure what’s most important gets your attention. What needs your attention changes from day to day, so just act from your values. Only commit to what moves you toward your goals.

Contact Melissa to set up a consultation and see what works for you at

Eva Marie is a daughter of a hair stylist who from an early age was obsessed with fashion, colors and rubbing sample parfume scents from magazines all over her body. She is on the hunt to find the best...