Colene Elridge, owner of Be More Consulting, has always been busy as a bee. Her Central Kentucky company celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, just as she has added “author” to her resume. A certified mediator with a background in human resources, Elridge has a degree in anthropology from Transylvania University and an MBA from Sullivan University.
She offers corporate training programs on such HR-driven topics as diversity and inclusion, conflict resolution and leadership development. She also provides keynote speaking for associations and success coaching, as Coach Colene, for women on a one-to-one or small-group basis.
In 2015, with an email list of fewer than 15 people, Elridge started sending an inspirational message once a week as “a way to connect with women and a way to have a continuous conversation, and give them things to think about and focus on for the week,” she said. Now more than 2,500 subscribers get a Monday Morning Pep Talk in their inbox every Monday at 5:15 a.m. Elridge writes a daily Instagram post to go along with each week’s pep talk theme.
Released in the fall of 2018, her “Monday Morning Pep Talks” book is a compilation of 63 messages from her weekly email blasts plus seven new ones. Elridge’s intention for the book leaned toward serendipity.
“When I thought about how I want people to use the book, I didn’t want them to sit down and read it all the way through,” she said. “I wanted people to flip open the book to a random page and trust that it’s the exact message you need to hear that day.”
In 2017 she actually had started working on a different book, one that would share women’s stories, including her own, about discrimination in the workplace. She planned to offer step-by-step guidance on the legal process, because another piece of her business is investigating harassment and discrimination complaints.
“I kept hitting a wall,” she said of the legally focused manuscript. “I still needed to do some processing after finding myself feeling like I was completely taken advantage of.”
She woke up in the middle of the night with the thought that her first book should be Monday Morning Pep Talks.
“Those 3 a.m. wakeups are when you need to listen the most, because that’s when you get the most guidance,” she said.
Inspired as she was to share the inspirational essays in a book format, she dragged her feet – a common reaction with creative projects.
The idea never left her though, and when she looked to see if MondayMorningPepTalks.com was available as a URL, it was.
“That was such a big moment,” she said. “It is such a common phrase, I was shocked the website was available.”
Elridge chose to release the self-published book on Halloween.
“That was very intentional,” she said. “We don’t often allow ourselves to be scared in a good way.” Within two months the book sold 500 copies through word of mouth and grassroots promotion. It’s available in Lexington at Sterling Hot Yoga and Wild Fig Books and Coffee, among other locations, and online at MondayMorningPepTalks.com.
The book has been an organic result of years’ worth of email messages. Elridge knows if she had written the weekly inspirations with a book in mind from the beginning, it wouldn’t have been as authentic for her, and just wouldn’t have worked.
“I wouldn’t change anything about how I was sending them out,” she said of the origin of the weekly eblasts, which she continues to write.
Having a deadline of every Sunday night for her Monday morning email has provided Elridge with a rewarding discipline. She uses the Pomodoro technique of setting a timer for 25 minutes to write straight through without pausing to edit.
“That process has been very helpful for me,” she said. “That is the best way for me to get things done, working in time chunks and blocking out my schedule. That’s how I get things done.”
Elridge also schedules time to take care of herself, from making doctors’ appointments to taking and teaching a yoga class.
“Entrepreneurs are the worst at self-care,” she said. “If all you’re doing is hustling, you’re not going to get where you want to go because energetically you’ll be drained.”
The advice she took for herself and happily dispenses to others? “Integrate self-care into your business plan.”