By Libby Reilly
Stories of Success
Mallory Harte Underwood talks success as we delve into this month’s theme of passion. One common thing that comes to mind when thinking about passion is someone who has chased a goal or dream, and is now living their passion through their work. Mallory, the powerhouse entrepreneur behind Hartewood Professionals, a unique virtual assistant business, has done this. Mallory and her family of four reside in Phoenix, Arizona and strive to soak up all that life has to offer. Through her previous work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, meditation and yoga practice, several cross-country moves and now raising two children, there were many instances that lead to her taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
In this interview, Mallory shares the scoop on transitioning out of her career in the nonprofit world. Her goal: pursue her dream of creating meaningful connections through exceptional customer experiences.
Following your life path
Libby Reilly at Mind Key: Tell us about what you are doing with your life.
Mallory Harte Underwood: I believe the foundation to success in anything comes from meaningful human connections. In order to create those relationships in business, you have to have exceptional customer experiences.
Through my virtual assistant business, I support other entrepreneurs with their customer service needs and hospitality goals so they can spend more time on the tasks only they can complete. Alternatively, I support some clients with their operations and systems management tasks so they can spend more time with their clients. Either way, the customer experience is given time and is intentionally deployed so relationships are stronger, leaving everyone fulfilled.
It was a hard decision to leave my 9-5 job with its consistent paycheck and a mission I fully supported, but I know that the connections of starting my own business will be deep and meaningful, that my success will be my own, and that the lifestyle fits my dreams.
Discovering your passion
Libby/MK: How did you first know that this was your life path/career?
Mallory: It took me a while to see that I was on this path. In my nonprofit career, I felt the most authentic when I was involved with people and working to build meaningful relationships with our volunteers, my colleagues, or patients. The next big hint was how impactful my 200-hour yoga teacher training was for me. Once I became an instructor, I yearned for a space to develop deeper connections, so I planned and hosted two yoga retreats.
Looking back, it all led to where I am now, but it took until last summer for the light bulb to turn on. I realized I wanted to rearrange my life in order to focus on helping others create meaningful relationships in their careers.
Being happy shouldn’t be the end goal. Feeling happy is fleeting from hour-to-hour and day-to-day. However, fulfillment isn’t so quick to come and go. My belief is that fulfillment in business comes from genuine human connections. To be able to assist others in having this helps them feel fulfilled in their businesses, and it’s a win-win because I, in turn, also feel fulfilled.
I love supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses because they have done the hard work to create their own success. They’ve had to be vulnerable, resilient, innovative and flexible. It’s a catch though, because entrepreneurs work so hard to build success, then they get to a point when they can’t do everything – after all, they are just one person! I am available to step in to give them a pat on the back and say, “I’m here to help!”
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses
Libby/MK: What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
Mallory: I’m very organized, which leads me to be reliable. I’m experienced with customer service and customer experience, which helps me be professional, empathetic and understanding.
A weakness I have identified is not waiting to complete tasks or projects. Sometimes I may make a mistake with a typo or miss a required step in a process because I go full steam ahead. Perhaps the best course of action is to pause, review a project from another perspective or do more research, but once I feel I have found a solution, I tend to want to move forward.
Libby/MK: How do you balance your strengths and weaknesses in your work?
Mallory: By showing clients my strengths, I build a solid relationship with them. If there is a mistake later on, as long as I own it quickly and make it right, they are more understanding that I’m only human, too.
I’d also like to throw empathy in here as both a strength and a weakness. Being deeply empathetic can lead to powerful, beautiful connections. However, it can also be personally draining. In order to balance that, I focus on a daily meditation in the morning to help me start the day from a centered space.
Hobbies as an outlet, self-care, and motivator of growth
Libby/MK: How do your non-work-related experiences compliment your life path/career?
Mallory: I like to live an active, healthy lifestyle that involves exercise, meditation, a mostly raw/real food diet and minimizing chemicals in my life. The goal is not perfection! It is to be healthy for one another so we have the best chance of being our best selves for one another for many years to come. And to simply feel good!
My family practices the 80/20 rule, which means 80 percent of the time we eat food that we know nourishes us and is healthy, but 20 percent of the time we eat the things we enjoy and focus on not feeling guilty about it. This means I can sip wine on the weekends, eat french fries when we go out to dinner, or chow down on a burger at a weekend BBQ with friends! This lifestyle draws others to me who also enjoy aspects of this lifestyle, which leads to personal connections.
I’m personally focusing on growth by being disciplined with my workout plan, in doing daily meditation, and in making food choices that make me feel and function the best. I also will continue to focus on experiences for my two children as they get older.
As parents of two young children, my husband and I are also working on a passion project centered around parenting choices that I hope to see off the ground and running in the next three years.
Mallory Harte Underwood talks success
Libby/MK: How is doing what you love today helping you reach those life goals?
Mallory: Taking the steps to starting my own business gave me confidence and guidance on how to go about manifesting the passion project. I have trouble owning my success with the business so far, but I am realizing that it is a success in that I did it.
[Take] all the steps, [put] in the time, [give] it [your] energy. [With all this] I’ve made connections to have clients. And, I let myself be vulnerable putting this out to my network with the risk of it failing, and I had to have resilience as it required working at my full-time job and on building the business. I made sacrifices of time with my children and husband or relaxing time on the couch. It isn’t to the point where I hope it will go, but it is a start, and that is a success.
Phoenix-based entrepreneur advice: Just start
Libby/MK: What advice might you give others looking to follow their passion in regards to their personal life path/career?
Mallory: If you aren’t sure of what it is you feel you should be diving into, consider taking up a daily meditation or journaling practice for at least a month – simply time to be quiet with your own self. Then, allow yourself to be open to what presents itself and give yourself permission to explore each opportunity.
Once you find your idea, just start! Set up a list and as you have ideas for everything you need and want to do, write it down. It can get overwhelming thinking about everything at once, so much so that many people don’t even start.
Once you have the list, work on one step at a time. Try to get something done off that list every few days at least. You can find time in your life if you are dedicated to this goal, even though you think you don’t have a spare minute.
Mallory is a wife, mommy to a little boy and girl, a believer in the power of human connection, wine lover with wanderlust, and a virtual assistant. She spent 12 years working in the nonprofit sector before leaving to pursue Hartewood Professionals full-time and has a public relations major and a journalism minor to back up her experience. She was born and raised in Michigan, met her Canadian husband in Western Australia, has visited more countries than she has fingers, and has ventured across the U.S. and Canada before now residing in Phoenix. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.