I’ve known Missy Molenda for 30 years.  We met when we were both still in high school; She went to Mason High and I went to Webberville.  I’ll never forget the night we met on the dance floor at Bzar’s teen night.  There was this extraordinary, beautiful, girl dancing next to me smiling.

We danced a few songs together and introduced ourselves as we moved to the music.  Suddenly, she grabbed me and kissed me! I was struggling with the whole gay thing so I thought… why not!  Missy was the first girl I ever kissed (and I tease her that she was the last).

Missy was wild and fun and scared the hell out of me.  After a few conversations she told me her ultimate goal was to host the TODAY SHOW.  Since that was my goal too, our friendship developed and we started hanging out, especially at teen nights across the Lansing area.  I still have a few of the fun, unique, letters she would write to me.   She would use a different color pen for each word, or write in a spiral shape so I had to turn the page to understand what she had put on the paper.

I don’t see Missy often; we maybe have lunch once or twice a year, but she is this amazing free spirit who —without any doubts—will always be in my life!  Missy was diagnosed with breast cancer last year but thankfully overcame it and is a survivor!  When I read her answers below I just had to smile because this is authentically Missy Molenda!

Who what inspires you?

My family and friends stretch across a diverse landscape of talents and successes, and their support has been overwhelmingly amazing and positive. I hate running, but I was so inspired watching my little brother Greg go from 5ks to marathons that I followed in his footsteps and can at least run a couple of miles now without stopping. I’m a bit of a night owl, but I’m inspired on Saturday mornings to join Stephanie Miller at the Courthouse Pub in Mason because I want to be a Zumba instructor like her someday. My last intern, Corrie McKiernan, left me a thank you note saying I showed her courage and helped push her out of her comfort zone, but she inspired me to keep mentoring others as did so many other former interns that I still keep in touch with regularly and remind me of lessons I forgot. You inspire me, Bob! You’ve done so much for the community and for positivity in the universe.  I get really inspired by CBS Sunday Morning and Oprah’s #supersoulsunday segments with people like Cheryl Strayed. I cry when I hear the national anthem because America and the American Spirit fires me up with pride, inspiration and hope for the future.

Do you have a slogan, motto or mantra?

Yes, I have three:

  1. Do or do not, there is no try. – Yoda
  2. Everything in moderation, even moderation. – Kid Rock
  3. As soon as you’re born you start dying, so you might as well have a good time. – Cake (the band)

Do you have a lesson or thought to share?

The best practical lesson was one I learned from my colleague Rich Bowman who said: “Find out what your boss’s biggest pain in the ass is, and fix it.” At the time, my boss had a negative impression of me before joining his team and I didn’t know how to turn it around. Listening to his cues in conference calls, inquiring about previous pitfalls, volunteering to take on the thorny project and then seeing it through completion earned me his trust and respect. I’ve also learned that everyone is snowflake-different, and that’s OK, but you can’t change anyone nor should you expect everyone to unconditionally accept you. In networking, the essential follow-up is key to solidifying relationships. Always be on the lookout for ways to help out others.

How do you deal with stress?

I’m a very blunt and honest person, I don’t hold a lot in, which is good and bad. I’ve had a lot of loss in my life and know how to prioritize what matters. I’m organized, plan ahead and as a former Girl Scout, always prepared, that helps minimize stress. I know money is a tool; it comes and goes, but do the best you can, be frugal but practical. I have “Friday Night Talk Shows” with my girlfriends and dance like nobody’s watching, even when everybody is watching. I eat healthy food and limit alcohol. I’m very grateful Michigan is a medical marijuana state, especially now being a cancer patient potentially facing chemo. But the best $10 I spend every month is for Spotify to hold all my music playlists. Nothing beats either belting out songs in the shower or chilling the most in the backyard listening to all my favorite music. Those are all very practical tips. But mentally, my therapist told me something recently that’s stuck: Stress isn’t what’s happened or the situation, it’s how you react to it. In other words, it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve had some terrible things happen, but on the flip side, I’m still breathing and happy for every breath.

Anything you want to share?

The world and the people in it are an infinite source of fascination. Everyone has a story to tell. Every part of this planet is here and matters for a reason. Everything we need is already here, as long as we keep it in balance. Don’t be a jerk! Everything you do makes a difference, whether it’s smiling at someone instead of looking down or bringing your own bag to the store instead of wasting a disposable plastic one. Use your time wisely. Make a difference, big or small.


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