Alright guys, this does feel a little bit weird because I pretty much spend every waking moment with this person. I’m interviewing my friend, my office-mate and co-worker, Michelle Liljedahl today– a recent new last name, so I’m still working through– still working through that. But Michelle’s technical title is the director of marketing shared services. Is that right? Or is it longer? I know you have super long title.
No, that’s right. Good job!
Thank you. And what does that encompass? Can you tell us a little bit about what the director of marketing shared services does?
Sure. So as a lot of people know, there’s a director of marketing, and that’s Lindsey Ash. And she oversees a lot of our marketing managers who are member-facing. So my role is more for managing the teams that are in charge of execution, so the marketing coordinators and digital specialists. So making sure that our website SEO traditional marketing efforts are really aligned and that we are executing effectively.
Gotcha. OK. How many people are on your team?
Well, we also do a little bit with Stratus as well. So the teams that oversee Audigy oversee Stratus in marketing shared services. So I would say there’s about 15 to 20, without actually counting on my fingers exactly how many.
OK. And you’ve been in this role for how long?
I’ve been in this current role a year and a half.
And prior to this, what did you?
Two years. I don’t know. Time flies.
OK. So, like, anyone who’s listening to this– and I do know this being friends with Michelle– not good with numbers. Very– very bad with numbers. If you see her try to calculate a tip in a restaurant, you’re just like, just give up. I will take care of this.
So true. So true.
But very smart otherwise.
Eh, yeah. Yeah.
OK. So you’ve been in this role for like–
Two years. Two years. I’m pretty sure. I just counted on my fingers. It’s been two years.
Prior to that, how long have you been with Audigy?
I’ve been Audigy for almost five and 1/2 years.
OK. And prior to Audigy, what did you do?
So my first job out of college was actually working at Nike for their golf department. And I helped support the outside sales team. So making sure inventory was in stock and ordering for them and doing a lot of outside events to promote Nike– which, I mean, they don’t need a ton of promoting. But it was really fun. And then I moved out to Philadelphia and I worked for a fitness company.
And the really cool thing about that fitness company is that they were kind of the same business model that we have here at Audigy. So they worked with a lot of third-party people or directly with other businesses. So we essentially would make deals with these big-time gyms like 24-Hour Fitness, Lifetime Fitness, and then we would work with corporations and resell memberships back to them, but at a cheaper cost. So it was a benefit that they could give their employees.
But it was a lot of client relationships and marketing, things like that. So the same kind of area, a similar business model. And that was something that I thought was really cool when I joined Audigy. That’s pretty rare that you have a company that’s modeled how we are.
Yeah. This is something I actually didn’t know about you.
I’m learning something–
Look at this!
–through this. When Will first asked Michelle and I to do this podcast, I was like, what can I possibly ask her that I don’t already know. It turns out that there was one thing.
OK. So you started at Audigy and the business model was semi-similar to something that you had done in the past. So that wasn’t like this weird shocking adjustment for you. What did you do? What were you hired to do? Was it something in marketing also?
Yeah. So actually I interviewed with our old vice president of marketing. And when I told him that the business I was at prior to Audigy, that they had a similar business model, he told me I was incorrect and there was no way that that could be accurate. And I was like, no really it is.
But essentially I came to Audigy to do what I did at my previous company, and that was to manage programs. So the first programs that I was tasked with managing were our position outreach programs, which at that time was the postcard kind of thing that went out to the different lists, and then the better hearing plan, which was the corporate plan that we had in place so that companies could offer that as a benefit to their employees.
Gotcha. So you did that for how long?
You did that for six months. And then you either didn’t do that well or you did that really well and moved into something else. What happened there?
It was actually really interesting. That same VP at the time asked me, where do you see the value in this program? Do we need a full-time employee dedicated to this? And although I saw a lot of value in position outreach, obviously, and that better hearing plan, I thought there was something that could kind of run seamlessly on its own with marketing manager support.
So I told him that I didn’t know necessarily that is where I belonged. And at the time he actually needed a project manager. So I interviewed for that and got that and moved into that role.
And that’s really, I think where, knowing you the way that I do, I feel like that’s where you thrive. Michelle and I, we work really closely together and one of the things I think that is funny about our relationship is we often have meetings with many other people.
Michelle’s super process-oriented and I am not. So oftentimes when we’re planning through something and there is four or five people in a room and Michelle and I are talking about process, it seems like we’re fighting. And people will get–
Yeah. People will get uncomfortable and you can tell that the mood in the room or kind of the tone in the room changes. And then we’re like, oh, we’re actually– we’re fine.
We’re just talking.
Yeah, we’re not fighting. This is actually very normal.
So in that way I think we complement each other very nice.
I can see how you are. I can see why someone would see that project management skill set in you and want to tap into that.
Yeah, I’ll compliment you on that. So I think, maybe we’ll do a little bit of a different format then we have in these past shows, just because I do know so much about you and there’s some really interesting things that I think our listeners would be really interested in.
That’s kind of you to say.
Yeah. So Michelle is one of nine children. Is that right?
Yeah. Can you tell us a little bit about your biological family?
Oh, sure, sure. So I actually have a seven older sisters who live in Anseong, South Korea, who I just met in September– which you know. Which you know.
Because I went there with you.
But it’s really cool story. Me and my little sister– she’s 28– we were adopted by an American family and lived in the Vancouver, Portland area our whole entire lives. And then last July we were contacted by or adoption agency, saying that our birth family was trying to make contact with us. And at that time we had no idea what that meant, if it was just a birth mom or birth dad. But we soon found out that it was seven older sisters.
And you thought all your life that you were the only children.
Is that correct?
So that was– that was pretty crazy. And they sent you a photo.
First, right. I think that came with the– did that come with the letter?
Yeah, it did.
And everybody looked just like you.
Yeah. Yeah. There were definite– it was very clear that we were family. Yeah.
Which was awesome. And then what happened? So then you digested that for a little bit– had a phone call, right. First contact– no, no, no. You did Facebook stalking.
Yeah. I did some Facebook stalking. I used my skills and everything that I’ve learned about social media and got onto Facebook and just started looking and searching for my sister on Facebook, because she had signed her name to the letter and I found her. So I made contact with her and we started talking through Facebook’s Messenger app.
But talking was difficult because–
I don’t speak Korean. It’s crazy. When I was adopted at three months old, I didn’t learn Korean. So there was a little bit of a language barrier. But the cool thing is, over there a very young age in grade school they do basic English. So most of them spoke a little bit of English, which made it possible for us to communicate a little bit. And then Google Translate–
Yeah, you guys got really good at Google Translate.
But Google Translate would translate some things really funny. And there’s probably not a lot that we can share here. But some of our English words do not mean the same when they’re translated.
So there was a period of time where Michelle was sending some very mixed messages to her Korean sisters and getting some really bizarre responses from them. And then we looked up what she was actually saying, and we were like, oh.
Yeah. Yeah. There’s definitely some words that don’t translate well, or just things that they say that we wouldn’t say. So for instance, to cheer somebody on they say fighting. So fighting– that’s what they always say. And so if I was like, oh, I’m having a bad day. They’d be like, fighting. And I was like, well, no. No.
I’m not fighting.
I’m not fighting anybody. It’s fine. But it’s a weird, like, cheering you on. Like, you can do it. So yeah, a little bit of a language barrier.
OK. So let’s look back up a little bit. So you contacted Munson? Right? And she is the sister who is born just previous to you?
OK. So they’ve labeled all the sisters. Michelle’s number eight. Munsan is number seven, right?
So you contacted number seven and started talking with number seven, and then got in contact with one through six also, through seven.
And then they all wanted to you to meet and come to Korea, right?
So you were like, OK? I’m going to do this, right?
Yeah, I was, which, looking back on it, that’s kind of a scary thing. But I don’t know, instantly I just felt like there was a lot of trust and we bonded and connected right away. So it didn’t seem scary at the time.
And I took you with me.
Yes. And I got to go, which was really, really awesome. I think I was like the tallest person that they had ever seen in person. I was constantly like bumping my head on ceilings or light fixtures.
Yeah. Megan’s his nickname in Korea was Hollywood.
Because they thought I was just like so incredibly tall.
I think there was a reference to Julia Roberts too, and Anne Hathaway. Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah, perhaps. And one of the funny experiences that we had there was, the Koreans are so incredibly kind in terms of sharing. Like anything that they have, they will share with you. And this extends into food. All meals are served family-style. And they, in my opinion, and I think Michelle shares this– they eat very, very little. Well, I mean, I don’t know.
Yeah, yeah. No.
OK. OK. So that’s fair to say.
They do but they don’t. Yeah. Yeah.
So the first shared meal that we had I think in our restaurant maybe– and it was a breakfast. We sat down to this table and it was like super informal. And they put one bagel. And there were like nine of us. And they put one bagel in the middle of the table and started to cut it up into pieces. And Michelle is whispering to me, “that’s not enough.”
And I am starving. This cannot be breakfast. We’re going to have to go sneak off and buy some food.
Because they can’t understand English. And so very vocally, Michelle is like, this is not enough. We need to do something about– like, I don’t know what to do. This is not going to work.
It turns out that there were other pastries and bagels and things like that were coming, but they would never just have a single– you would never just order one thing in a restaurant and expect that to just be yours. The culture, which is really beautiful, is anything that I have I will share with you.
And you don’t just have your own individual meals the way that we do here. And that was obviously clear after more food came after the bagel. But there was this moment of like, why even bother? Like, I don’t even think this is something that is going– it’s going to be more of like torture then an meal.
Is there anything else that was particularly interesting about that trip?
Oh, man, that trip was fun.
Can we share the last Night Please?
You love this story.
We can edit it out if you decide that you don’t like it.
But we’ll at least let Will hear it.
OK so —
The last night in Korea.
So they ran us ragged when we were in Korea. It was so much fun but it was completely exhausting. They joke that Koreans don’t sleep, and that is semi-true, we learned. So it was probably around midnight and we were leaving one of our sister’s places to head back home, because we were staying with our other sister, Hansun..And Hansun says to me, mom’s going to come spend the night.
Keep in mind that there’s a major language barrier. So what she’s saying, you’re kind of getting the gist of it. But you’re like, I don’t know if what she’s saying is actually exactly what’s going to happen. Because we speak no Korean and she speaks just–
Yeah, very basic English. So you kind of have to– you know a little bit about what they’re saying but you’re not totally sure that you’re getting the entire message until thing actually happens.
OK, sorry. Keep going.
Megan’s just so excited right now because–
Because this is this best story. I laughed so hard after this happened that my face hurt for days because it was one of the funniest– OK, keep going.
So she’s like, mom’s going to come sleep at my house. She wants to sleep with you. And I’m like, oh, OK. All right, that’s cool. And at the time, Megan and I were sharing a bed. And it was fine. And my sister had moved out to the couch with her husband. So we go back to the house and we’re all just sitting around and chit chatting.
And all of a sudden I see my sister’s husband moving my stuff from the room Megan and I were sleeping in to the other room. And I’m like, huh, that’s interesting. And then I see a pillow go. And I’m like, oh, no. Oh, no. And I’m like, so what’s going on for tonight? What are our sleeping arrangements? She’s like, well, Megan’s going to be lonely, because you’re going to sleep with mom.
And I was like, huh. Well, that’s uncomfortable. But I’m like, I can’t hurt these people’s feelings. I’ve just met them. You know, obviously this is something that this woman wants to do. And I’m like, well, she doesn’t want to sleep with me because, what if I snore? You know? Like, I could snore and then I would like keep her up all night. And she was like, oh, no, no, no. That won’t bother her. I’m like, OK. Well, I’m going to have to come up with something else.
So we’re still talking. And then all of sudden I’m like, you know, I don’t think we sleep in the same bad because I might move around a lot and I don’t want to keep her up all night. She looks at me and she says, oh, it’s OK, she will hold you tight and tighter. And I’m like, oh my gosh. So I’m like–
And meanwhile I’m in the same room when this is– there are four people. I’m in the room. Michelle is like desperately trying to make eye contact with me. I turned my chair completely around the other way because I’m like, I cannot help. I don’t know what to say. And I know if I make eye contact with her, I’m going to bust out laughing.
So I’m like, um, well– OK, well, we need to go get ready for bed. So Megan and I go back in the room to get ready for bed and wash our face and what not. And I look at Megan and I’m just like, I can’t do this. I can’t. And Megan looks me right in the eye, smiles, shrugs her shoulders and says, sorry but, you just have to. You’re going to have to do this. And I was like, no. And I think we sat in there for a good five minutes just staring at each other like, what are we going to do?
Because you’re going to cuddled all night.
Which was not– this was not sounding good at all. And it was our last night. We were so tired. And I knew we had a long flight home. So finally I said to Megan, you know what, I guess these people don’t like me. So I guess they don’t like me.
So I went and got my sister and I told her, I was like, look, you know, I just don’t feel comfortable with this. And then of course, I say, in America, this is kind of weird. We don’t typically cuddle with people who are like our significant other. And she like, oh, OK. And then she stops. And she’s like, but Megan and you have been sharing a bed.
And I was like, yeah, yes we have. And there was no way around that. I was just like, yeah. But I was like, I’m sorry, I just can’t. And she’s like, OK. And I felt bad. I felt like my birth mom really wanted that. But we sat around talked, and then 15 minutes later my birth mom stands up. She’s like, OK. And she says in Korean, I’m going home.
She thinks it would be more comfortable to go home. And so she just goes home. It was like she was not even necessarily wanting– she that maybe you wanted that, right?
She thought I wanted that and needed that. So it turns out this woman didn’t even want to cuddle me.
She just felt like she had to.
She just felt like had to. So that kind of took the wind out of my sails. I was like, oh, OK. She doesn’t even want to. So that’s less satisfying.
Oh. And then we just went to bed.
It was a really, really fun– it was really fun trip, and just a really great experience all around. And it’s one of those things that– my husband is adopted and I’ve met his biological family also. And it was just a really great experience.
And to see that happen a second time– to see someone reunited with their biological family and all of the emotions and it being this really great, powerful thing was just a really cool– it was just a really awesome experience for me to have to, just kind of riding along. I could have done a documentary. I guess I don’t why I didn’t video more than I–
It was hard. We were just so busy running around. But it was an awesome trip and super emotional, but super exciting. I think Megan cried as much as– we all did.
Any time they were crying, I’m would just like, burst into tears also. Which they were like, what is up with your massive friend who’s constantly crying? Eh, I’m emotional.
Oh, it was awesome. And then they came out here in December. They’re just such good people. They treated us with so much kindness and hospitality.
And obviously that is the relationship that will continue on. That’s the really cool thing. This wasn’t like a one time thing. It’s definitely something that you’ll continue to cultivate.
Right. Yeah. We talk all the time. They’re great. Good people.
OK. So, Michelle, we know a little bit about your personal life– quite a bit about a specific area of your personal life and your family. Can you tell us a little bit about– we talked a little bit about when you first started at Audigy and your progression into your current role.
What got you into marketing? Can you tell us a little bit about school? When you first declared a major, was it a marketing advertising major? And I actually don’t know this about you either. What did you go to school for?
I found marketing just by chance. I had some really cool people that I worked with out in Philadelphia who got me really interested in it and passionate about it. But it wasn’t what I actually studied in college. I went to Concordia University and I studied psychology.
And the whole point was that eventually I would go to grad school. And that was the track that I wanted to be on. But after four years, I was just burnout and needed a little bit of break. And that’s when I went out to Philadelphia and found that marketing company and really fell in love with it.
OK. So do we know anybody else at Audigy who went to Concordia?
I know Mark Drahn went to Concordia.
Probably didn’t graduate with you though?
No, no. Yeah.
OK. You mentioned a little bit earlier that your first two jobs out of school were sports-focused, right? You had the Nike golf job, which I know that you’re really good at golfing. Which, I think I told you this before so it’s fine to tell you this now that it’s being recorded.
The first time Michelle and I ever went golfing together– because I was on the golf team in school too. But I was not good. I was on the golf team specifically so I could get out of school and go do something that took a long time. It takes a long time to play 18 holes of golf. So I was like, awesome, I can leave school for like five hours, and go place on a golf course for free. I will definitely do this. So I guess I assumed that Michelle was the same. And she invited me to go golfing and we went golfing.
And I was like, she’s like, good. She’s actually good at this. And I was mad the whole time. I was like, a huge baby about this. I was like, you should have told me that you were this good at this. I would never have come with you. So anyway, I do know that you’re good at golf and you must of practiced somewhere. But I don’t know if you played– did you play golf in school?
Yeah. So my dad’s a golf coach and he actually got me into it. And I played just a little bit, not very seriously growing up. And then in high school I played. And once I graduated my dad had said that Concordia was starting a new golf program. And he was really pushing me to go. And I was like, oh, no, no, no. I’m good. I don’t want to do that.
And luckily my dad encouraged me to go to Concordia. And I was able to get a scholarship, which obviously is great for student loans and whatnot. And it ended up being a great experience. I met a lot of great friends through the golf program. And we were able to build it out. It was the first year that they had it. So it was cool to see it grow and evolve. And now they have a great golf program over there for men’s and women’s. So it’s pretty cool.
What’s your favorite golf course that you’ve ever played?
That’s a good question.
Don’t think about it for too long. What’s one that you can think of, that just comes to mind.
I like the Reserve. But I also like the less stuffy courses, the ones where you can just go out and have fun and people aren’t taking it too seriously. So I play out at the Cedars a lot. It’s just a local course. That’s kind of the course I grew up on. And then Heron Lakes in Portland.
Do you take a cart or carry your bag?
You know, I think because I always had to carry a bag growing up– you can’t take carts, obviously when you’re playing in school and for tournaments. I’m kind of anti-walking now. So it’s almost like in spite, I take a cart. But it’s good exercise to walk. I dont’ know why I don’t do it more.
Yeah. Yeah. Maybe I’ll go with you if we can walk the course next time.
OK. Good exercise.
If you could give it two pieces of golfing advice to someone who has never golfed before, what would those two pieces of advice be?
I would probably say, the first thing is, don’t try and go and crush the ball. I feel like so many people go out there and try and hit the crap out of the ball. Oh, I said crap. So many people go out there and try and hit the ball so hard.
And the first part is just getting the basics and mechanics down. And sometimes that’s even taking a half swing, not even taking a full swing until you can get a good rhythm. And then the other part is short game. Short game is everything. That’s where you cut down on strokes and you can really get your game running really lean.
So when you’re talking about short game, are you talking about anything that’s taking place on the green or just anything that is right near it? What’s that area called?
I would say anything around the green. Anything from 100 yards in.
So let’s end this by talking about your perfect today. If money were no object and you woke up tomorrow morning and you could do whatever you wanted to do with that day, with that being the only guidelines I’m going to give you. You can do whatever you want. What would you do? Or what would that day look like, I guess?
The perfect day for me probably would be with family and friends, somewhere sunny, definitely not in this Portland rain. So I would say somewhere kind of sunny and tropical, just relaxing with no agenda. That sounds like the perfect day to me.
What do you eat? I know that you– another thing about Michelle is if you go to a restaurant with her, she has to have seen the menu online at least two hours in advance of going to the restaurant and look through absolutely everything. So you don’t even need to get– if you’re me and you go to a restaurant, you’re just like, what do they have here? And before you got to a restaurant, or before you get the menu, Michelle will be like, oh they have, like– and then recite the entire menu to you.
That’s true. Well that’s exactly why I can’t tell you what I would eat. Yeah. I mean, that would be a very tough decision.
You haven’t seen a menu.
Yeah. Yeah. You know how much I like food. It would take awhile for me to decide on something like that.
OK. You don’t have to be specific, but what type of food would you eat?
Probably seafood. Especially if you were somewhere nice and warm, kind of tropical. Some seafood, yeah.
Some seafood. OK. Would you play golf?
I’d play some golf.
Would you take a nap?
Yeah, I would take a nap. I think that would actually be one of the– on the beach though. A little power nap on the beach.
OK. What time would you wake up?
And then what time would you go to bed?
And a nap. Don’t forget the 30-minute power nap
Gotcha. OK. Thanks for joining us.
Yeah. Thank you.