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Work-life coach finds right combination in Centerville

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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Melissa Worrel-Johnson starts every work day with a cup of coffee while logging on to her computer. She works remotely. As she sits down at her desk, her colleagues are stepping out of cars and buses before pushing open heavy glass doors leading to banks of elevators. It’s even a little less overcast outside as they descend upon the upper floors of a fourteen-story tower near the interstate in Des Moines. Back at home in Centerville, Melissa turns on her desk lamp, a pool of warm light spills onto her desk, relaxed and ready to work.

A quick step back in time, the year 2020 has just begun, but for Worrel, instead of looking ahead to the new year, she found herself looking back, more than a little surprised at how quickly time had gone by. Her time. She’d spent the last eighteen years of her life working for large insurance companies, either in building a practice or moving within the corporate realm. The latest one ended abruptly. “On March 2, my role was eliminated,” says Worrel candidly. “The new CEO joined…” so it was time to look for a new place to work.

Worrel took the change as a challenge. “I got the opportunity at this point to ask, “What do I want to do?” and “What are the things that drive me?” Worrel is passionate about helping people elevate and develop themselves to be the best leader they can be; which then in turn “trickles downstream to make sure that those future leaders become great leaders, because they have someone that they can chameleon and mirror who is a powerful leader in their own right.”

In mid-June (2020), Worrel officially announced that she was joining Carlson Group. She decided to join Carlson Group as a coach, while also doing leadership development training. “I am an independent contractor with them,” she clarifies. “I'm not an employee. I run my own practice within Carlson Group. It gives me freedom and flexibility.”

When you talk with Melissa, or Mel, as she likes to be called, you can feel the energy in her voice as she confidently expresses herself. So, how does a girl from the “big city,” from Des Moines, end up moving to Centerville? There has to be a story to that, and there is, replies transplant Worrel-Johnson. She is now what they call a “remote worker.” Moving to Centerville for work actually resulted in more personal adjustments than professional ones, hence, the real reason that drew Mel to southeastern Iowa, love.

Worrel-Johnson admits she had one more thing on her plate at the time; she had just started dating a guy she’d met in Des Moines. “When we went on our first date, I'll just tell you this, I had no idea he didn't live in Des Moines, right?” laughs Mel. “I just didn't put it together.” By the second date Mel learned that Alan wasn’t actually from Des Moines. He lived in Centerville, some 90 miles away. “I had never heard of it. So, I got home and I Googled ‘Centerville,’ I'm like, Oh, my God, I don't even know if I could work with this. Like, that's a long way away.” Mel said the odds of a long-distance relationship working out were not in their favor. And, then came COVID. Ironically, for Mel and Alan, the virus was just what the doctor ordered.

The COVID virus was forcing many companies to convert to a work from home model. It was a time of soul searching for Mel as things in her personal life were coming together quickly. The isolation time spent together gave Mel and Alan the opportunity to spend more quality time. They bought a house together and got married. As for moving to Centerville? “It wasn't even a question of him giving up his job when mine was flexible. We made the decision; I was moving down here,” recalled Worrel-Johnson. “I don't think I've lived a lot of places; I've lived in seven states and three of them twice,” she said, then reflected, “Being happy has something to do with where you live, but has more to do with who you're with and the people that are around you. And so, I knew Alan was the person I wanted to marry.”

Mel and Alan were married on September 4, Labor Day weekend. It was a social distance wedding, meaning it was just their immediate family. Everything was outside, under rented tents every family had a separate table. It seems absurd looking back on it says Worrel-Johnson, describing how when a family that arrived together, they sat together and ate together. Every family even got their own set of tongs to go through with the food, to make it as safe as possible, laughed Mel. 

“We got married in our backyard on our patio and it was just perfect. The weather was great. We hired a musician from Des Moines to come down and it couldn't have been a better day.” Mel was ecstatic about their wedding day in her new hometown. “I think a lot of people dream of doing something like that. Where our house is, we back up to a wooded lot. We're on about an acre of property total and it was magical. It was perfect.”

As the New Year gets underway, Worrel-Johnson is looking forward to the kick-off of her Emerging Leaders Group which teaches communication skills, leadership skills, and emotional intelligence. Worrel-Johnson says some of it is just getting the word out that they don't have to hire a personal executive coach, they can first start someone in a group program. She says it’s more affordable for the company, but also gives that leader some of the development they need as they're building their career. “It also creates loyalty to the company, that the company is investing in their development as they're starting to promote from within.”

The Emerging Leaders Group is a 15-month program. Worrel-Johnson said she was trying to have it be a year-long program but there's just too much meat on the bones to try. “I didn't want it to be a skinny doe, if we use a hunting phrase for right now, I wanted it to be a meaty buck, maybe,” she says from her home in Centerville. “I don't know if you want to use that analogy, but my husband hunts so I've heard all about bucks and does the last few weekends,” she laughed. 

Centerville has quickly become home for our big city transplant. She finds it a place with a high quality of life, and love. “I am calmer probably than I was when I lived in Des Moines.” Worrel-Johnson has adapted to the digital world of working remotely with ease and is excited for the future of working out of her home. She smiles when she says she has great connections; not only within her industry, but from her local community. Appanoose County has some of the best Internet connectivity in southeast Iowa, making it easy for her to stay in touch with the main office from her home.

So that's the long story short, a lot of a lot of words later, laughs Worrel-Johnson. That's how I ended up in Centerville, for love at the end of the day, and the flexibility that my career gives me that I can do what I'm doing from anywhere. If you do need help with some professional coaching, however, give Mel a call. She can help you.


*Consumers living in and around Centerville have several choices when it comes to Internet connectivity. Viasat Internet and HughesNet each offer competitive satellite service with 100 percent reliability. Rise Broadband and Mediavision Cable offer additional high-speed choices.

Category: News

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