Effective leadership is crucial in the ever-changing business world, and leadership consulting provides valuable guidance in developing the skills and mindset for success. Eileen Mendel, an experienced consultant and CEO of The Balanced Millionaire, empowers executives to build values-driven companies. Having forged her own way as an entrepreneur, her personal journey informs her work.
The pandemic has had a profound effect on the workplace. When offices shifted to remote work or shuttered their doors altogether, employees faced significant challenges, including job insecurity, increased workloads and decreased job satisfaction. As a result, many employees began feeling disconnected from their work and reconsidered their careers. This paved the way for the “Great Resignation,” as workers decided to leave their jobs and pursue other opportunities.
This shift in worker priorities had significant implications for employers. Companies are now in a position where they must adapt to the changing needs of their employees to retain top talent. This includes building a strong culture, prioritizing mental and physical health, offering job security, and creating a positive work environment.
Entrepreneur and leadership consulting has become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more leaders seek to develop the skills and mindset needed to succeed in business.
Eileen Mendel, CEO of The Balanced Millionaire, offers one-on-one consulting and leadership training to help executives overcome obstacles, cultivate new strengths, and build a company that aligns with their core values. With decades of experience, Eileen also brings in experts from different industries to help bring her client’s vision to fruition.
One of the key benefits of entrepreneurship and leadership consulting is its ability to help individuals identify and work through challenges unique to their businesses. For many entrepreneurs and leaders, it can be all too easy to become lost in the details of day-to-day operations, losing sight of the bigger picture.
Eileen helps executives step back and assess their situation from a new perspective by identifying underlying obstacles that may be holding them back from achieving their goals. She then helps them find their brand’s true voice. Much of her knowledge comes from building her business from the ground up after pivoting from a different field.
Eileen earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University in 1980. At the time, there were few opportunities to have a career in business, and a technical skillset was more valuable in the marketplace. So, she set her eyes on a career in the pharmaceutical industry, a path she had been considering since high school. After graduating, she took doctoral coursework in pharmacology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
The biotech industry had just started to take off in Silicon Valley around this time, so Eileen decided to move to California. There, she worked at a startup where she was able to see what was happening in biotech from the inside. Venture capitalists would visit the company, and countless meetings revolved around the company’s next business strategy. She learned valuable skills that would help her later in her career, such as acquiring funding.
“It was my ambition at that point to become a CEO of a biotech company because that seemed like an opportunity that was fresh and new. My business now focuses on small to mid-sized businesses in the life sciences and high technology sectors.”
She earned an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then went on to work for Bristol-Myers Squibb, where she was involved in launching the newest breast cancer drug at the time. However, the company was not progressing as quickly as Eileen wanted because it was a large company on the cusp of a merger. She was presented with the decision to be a part of the merger or leave the company and return to California to get involved with more biotech.
“With recombinant DNA and emerging technologies in immunology (such as monoclonal antibodies), they were using traditional synthetic chemistry. I knew from my background in science that the forefront was to be involved with the new technologies that were coming out within neurology and genetics. That is where I wanted to be because I didn’t want to be with something that was a little stale. It was the promise of these new technologies having fewer side effects and perhaps being a cure.”
She left Bristol-Myers Squibb and returned to California, where venture capital firms approached and hired her. Eileen went on roadshows with them and frequently did Q&A with the founders.
“I thought, oh wow, this is a lot of fun. I want to start my own consulting company and do this full time as a consultant with venture firms, investors and also with large companies that were now starting to look at biotech companies with their business development groups.”
She decided to take the leap in 1992 and start her own company—The Mendel Group. She had a partner, hired consultants, and registered the company.
“I approached it as a challenge. It was really a challenge because when you first start a company, it’s really up and down.”
Whenever a project ended, another project had to be found, so there was a constant environment of “go-go-go.” That part of financial instability was scary to Eileen, “but the work that came in was fun.”
“It was interesting. It was intellectually stimulating. Your adrenaline would go up because you have deadlines to meet or because you know an IPO or a product launch was dependent on the study that you were doing. We were working with investors and small companies.”
Eventually, she worked with mid-level executives in larger companies. Between her decades of consulting, she also earned her Certification as a Life Mastery Consultant at Mary Morrissey’s Brave Thinking Institute. The education she received there focused on a holistic approach to success. Eileen started to incorporate working on mindset into her consulting since she had always been driven to keep moving forward thanks to her personal vision and resilient mindset.
“I remember that was the thing that propelled me even in bad times. When we were competing for a proposal and maybe got rejected or whatever, we said, ‘We have to pick ourselves up.’ The mindset was let’s move on.”
According to Eileen, when a company suffers from a setback, the loss of morale tends to affect all employees.
“It’s kind of an emotional intelligence. There is a tendency when you don’t win a contract for everybody to be a bit upset, especially the leaders and other people who are involved at the highest levels.”
When Eileen started her own business, which eventually became The Balanced Millionaire, her company experienced its share of setbacks. “We had to have a mindset to keep going,” she says, “If we didn’t get that one, we would get the next one.”
“We were going to show that other company that they missed out on an opportunity. Work with us, and we’re going to do exceptional work. Our philosophy was always to put in more value, to give more value than what we were being paid for. We always went the extra mile.”
Eileen wanted to first call her consulting company Inner Edge International—a name inspired by the concept of inner knowing. She believes this type of emotional intelligence is crucial for a leader.
“The leader inspires action, power, enthusiasm, and energy. But they could also use that to develop their organization so that everyone becomes self-powered no matter what.”
The more holistic approach to building a business was not as popular then. Companies were “still in the traditional mode” and more concerned about generating revenue. Soft skills were not considered necessary.
“That idea is totally not true because we’re humans. And people need to be motivated. They need to be inspired. You can’t just drive people to burn themselves out because you need to make sales. You need to develop that emotional intelligence and the culture that inspires people and makes them want to do work for the sake of a purpose and not just money.”
Nonetheless, this was not the prevailing mindset at the time where she was based. She worked in San Diego with smaller companies, attended network meetings and talked to people in the community. They were slower to adapt to newer ways of growth than some bigger cities.
“Around five or six years ago, I decided I would reach out and branch out and use these social media platforms.”
She decided to initiate and host a podcast called The Balanced Millionaire and used LinkedIn campaigns to reach her target market.
“I wanted to interview entrepreneurial professionals and other service providers to entrepreneurs that could help them make good business and personal decisions. I wanted to encourage business owners to be better and do better by interviewing people who were very successful in starting companies, maybe in some untraditional ways. I was also interviewing psychologists about handling stress and interviewing naturopaths and doctors. Along with business development, we talked about the health care system and taking care of yourself.”
At the Brave Thinking Institute, she learned about the four areas needed to balance life: health, relationships (with your family, friends, community, and company), career, and time/financial freedom to pursue hobbies, take vacations, or contribute to charities. The logo for The Balanced Millionaire is based on a Celtic symbol with four prongs to symbolize those areas.
Eileen also focuses on helping women and minorities that are underserved.
“Quite a few of my guests on my podcast were female as well. I was trying to encourage women to move up into higher-level ambitions like building a multimillion-dollar business instead of having a mom-and-pop business. We wanted those who didn’t have those opportunities to have strong businesses rather than relying on opening smaller restaurants or a dry cleaning business, etc.”
Her own struggles as an entrepreneur informs her work. Though she had received job offers with six-figure salaries, Eileen wanted to focus her career on helping people. Eileen’s process helps leaders not only grow a business but also helps them manage stress. This way, they can have a balanced life while building something they can sell or pass on to later generations.
After the pandemic, Eileen joined a networking group based out of Florida. While she knew she could offer leadership and business development skills, she thought her company would be drowned out by the noise of social media and internet-based growth strategies. So, she considered what her company could offer.
“What can I offer that is not going to be covered up by the noise but still is so important to leadership and to the stability of a company that it’s going to stand out from the usual? My thing has always been more strategic. Let’s do something more strategic. Let’s work on the core values and vision of a company. A company can establish something simple that will help inspire employees and keep the leadership on track with a steady foundation. We want to make it so loud and clear to the employees and to the potential hires what this company is all about.”
She believes determining these core values, a vision, and a mission helps retain employees and attracts top talent.
“The pandemic brought on a quiet quitting. People were fed up because they were forced to be in their offices with bad ventilation. They were forced to sit in a cubicle all day. So, people were quitting and looking for remote opportunities.”
As more and more people began working in a remote or hybrid setting, issues with culture and communication began to rise.
“How do you keep the culture going? How do you keep the team going? How do you keep the inspiration? And so the only thing that could tie everything together would be these core values, vision, and mission. These people working remotely could still be juiced up and driven by the fact that there was a purpose. They weren’t out there just collecting a paycheck.”
Employee turnover can be quite damaging to a company. Talented people are frequently poached by larger companies offering better pay and benefits.
“So it’s hard to build a multimillion-dollar company when the most talented people move on after one or two years. And you don’t want to be stuck with someone mediocre. You want to find another person who is just as good. So then companies need to hire an expensive recruiter to find that person, which is a loss.”
Companies sometimes offer other benefits, such as stock options, to try and hold onto their employees.
“Ultimately, if employees are not getting inspired and challenged, stock options won’t be enough because they can move on to another company also offering stock options in addition to a higher salary and a higher title. But what is enough is developing community and loyalty. If you can develop a culture where there’s camaraderie going on, it’s fun and inspiring. That’s what’s going to help the retention rate and going to attract more people to apply for a job.”
The high turnover rates are also a setback because the CEO often has to take over when someone leaves a team. Prioritizing or ignoring core values, mission and vision can make or break a company.
“A product just might be novel, but there are a lot of interesting novel products out there. A lot of them don’t make it because they didn’t have a good culture or a good team to make it happen. And that’s where you know, that’s where the real dividing line is between a company that is successful and one that fails.”
She currently offers an online course called “Becoming the Company Where Top Talent Thrives.” The program is 12 weeks long, and clients are walked through a step-by-step process.
“What are your core values? What areas do they usually cover? How are other companies presenting their four core values? Then we go step-by-step to the mission, and then we go step-by-step to their vision. Then we tie it all together.”
She provides exclusive VIP day sessions where she digs “deep into issues and challenges with both infrastructure and culture of the business, as well as external issues such as targeting the best clients, branding, product pipelines and more.”
Eileen also provides exercises and homework to help clients build a plan incorporating those core values, mission and vision.
“Once they’re finished with the course, I can help with the implementation. I have an affiliation with an enterprise operating system, and we can get them onto that system to data enter core values, mission and vision. Then it’s available online to all the team members of the company. There are accountability steps within each area so that when they have weekly meetings, they ensure everyone is aligned with those core values, missions and vision.”
She says it is not just about developing a plan on paper. It’s also about the final implementation, “with each team member being accountable to those principles that the company is founded on.” Those principles should be non-negotiable. Throughout the program, Eileen makes sure it is solid and available to employees for input.
“Then it becomes part of their culture, not just, you know, thrown out there. It’s a part of the daily culture where they’re reminded on a constant basis about the core values and mission and vision.”
Eileen also brings on other consultants to help executives build a company that aligns with their values.
“We’ll bring in a negotiator who can negotiate issues with people resisting things and making the culture not where it should be. I also have a consultant that will talk to people about environmental sustainability if sustainability is part of the company’s core values. I bring in consultants and experts depending on what each company needs so that they can get assistance in those areas. Because the CEO doesn’t have time to research.”
Eileen says that these principles should be so ingrained within the organization that people on the outside, suppliers, and customers, associate the company with them. She says that other businesses do not want to work with a company that has people coming and going; they appreciate stability.
“The company has a positive, inspired culture that spreads and becomes something that suppliers and customers can sense. And it’s something that keeps loyal customers as well as suppliers, so that affects the company not only internally but also externally.”
When a company does not consider its mission, vision and core values, employees have to figure it out on the job. There is no common purpose that holds the company together.
“There should be open communication about authenticity between boss and employee. They both may have different values or thoughts, and the employee is trying their best to do what the boss wants or what’s expected of them in the job, but it’s just not aligned. There’s a mismatch. There’s a lack of communication also.”
Younger workers value working for a company that aligns with their principles and expectations.
“The newer generation is always on the lookout for a better opportunity because there is no punishment for leaving a company and jumping to another company for a higher salary or better position. And so they are always looking for something better. The only way to hold them is to give them more challenges and keep technology up to date. If the technology is 20 years old, they may say, ‘I don’t want to stick around with this. It’s frustrating me because I can’t do what I need to do.’”
The new generation also considers a company’s mission because they want to make an impact. They want visibility and want to be recognized for their uniqueness and their talent.
“They want to be able to use creative skillsets and be able to work knowing they’re working for a higher purpose. That’s why you must have these missions, visions and core values. And they have to know how it aligns with them and their own mission, vision, core values and career development.”
Recognition is also important. If an employee is going to be a key player in helping grow a company, they should be acknowledged for their performance. Executives must also check in with themselves internally while dealing with the pressures of running a company.
“You have to be very conscious of whether you are in balance because you can go downhill very fast. Relationships are failing. Time and money freedom are failing. You have a career, but your health is failing. What good is that? You only have one thing. You’re out of balance.”
Through her consulting, Eileen lets executives talk through things and encourages them to “get things out” verbally. She believes every CEO needs a supportive ear.
“Keep your vibration high. Even when things are down and low, you have to reframe your mind. You can’t stay in that state because it will just attract more negativity. You have to think about how you’re going to bring your vibration up again. Joy, love, and gratefulness are high vibrational emotions. Before I go to bed, I’ll say out loud what I’m grateful for because that brings your vibration up and focuses you more on the positive. So you can just say simple things to bring your energy and your vibration because the higher your vibration, you will attract positive things in your life.”
In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, taking nature hikes with her dog Coco, organic gardening, wine tasting, and gourmet cooking. She engages in philanthropy, contributing to multiple charities, including Children International, where she sponsors a child living in Ecuador.
Eileen also encourages budding entrepreneurs to keep pursuing their dreams.
“If you’re going to start a business, you have to be all in. It’s very hard to just dip your toe in the water. Prepare for it. Prepare your mind. Prepare your bank account. But then plan on going all in because then you’ll regret it if you don’t. If you have a great idea and are passionate about it, why are you giving it little energy and little time? Just go all in.”