Melissa Smith

Melissa is the managing director of Life & Career Planning, LLC and has spent her career leading and learning about leadership. She began her career in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the US Shoe Corporation, where she was involved in sales, marketing, training, and operations. In 1995, she became the national sales manager for the Easy Spirit retail stores and relocated to White Plains, New York. Four years later, she accepted the role of president of the Aerosoles retail stores and built a team that doubled sales and the number of store locations. During that time, Melissa counseled numerous employees at all levels on career development and growth to assist them in their professional journey.

In 2005, Melissa decided to pursue a new direction in her career and took a year and a half off to reorganize and reinvent. Since that time, she has served as the executive director of the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School, is a graduate of the Leadership Newark fellows program, and has served on numerous boards. Melissa is now actively engaged in leadership and management consulting and in this role has taught ethical leadership to thousands of Rutgers Business School undergraduate students. She leads multiyear leadership development programs for emerging leaders and nonprofit executives. These programs focus on personal and professional development and have resulted in significant progress for many participants. She regularly spends time on one-on-one coaching sessions with the participants. She and her business partner, Alex Plinio, recently wrote a book, Time To Get Real!, about developing a strategic plan for your life and career. The book is currently being developed into an online course by Thomas Edison State University.

Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing from the University of Tennessee–Knoxville and received an executive MBA from Rutgers Business School. She also served as the class president for the Rutgers Executive MBA program during her time as a student.

Melissa and her husband Joel have a blended family with five grown children and a lively rescue dog named Amelia. Melissa loves travel and outdoor adventure, most recently trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.   Life and Career Planning


Grit and Soul Career Blog

Making the Most of Meetings

Business meetings are a key venue where business reputations can be made and lost. It is where people can distinguish themselves, contribute to decision-making, and move their careers forward. But meetings can be a difficult…

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Melissa Smith_Grit and Soul

LinkedIn Best Practices That Set You Apart: Part 2

Now that your LinkedIn profile is nice and strong, here’s how you can make the most of your LinkedIn connections: Grow your connections People limit themselves on LinkedIn when they hesitate to hit the “connect”…

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Linkedin Best Practices

LinkedIn Best Practices That Set You Apart: Part 1

LinkedIn has become an important part of presenting your professional skills, experience, and accomplishments in any industry.  Because it hosts more than 500 million professional profiles, which means nearly an unlimited supply of network connections…

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Motivators and Educators . . . M.E.!

Are you taking time for M.E.?

I’m a big believer in M.E. time. That stands for Motivators and Educators . . . M.E.! . . . things that inform, entertain, and energize me. And I find listening to podcasts can be…

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The Boss Needs Feedback too

The Boss Needs Feedback Too!

No matter how much you like your boss or supervisor, there are probably things about him or her that you would like to change. I hear from so many people that their boss does things…

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Crying at work _ Grit and Soul

Crying at work – it happens!

I have certainly cried at work before – sometimes in the privacy of my office and sometimes in front of my boss.  And I hated it!! We’ve all been in one of those situations before…

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The Skill of Delegating

Delegation is key to maximizing our productivity and keeping ourselves rational during tight deadlines or heavy workloads. The trouble is that many of us don’t know how to effective delegate or don’t like to give…

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Grit and Soul Career Blog

How to Make Criticism at Work, Work for You.

Hearing criticism at work is hard for many of us. We pride ourselves in working hard and effectively and to have a boss or co-worker criticize our work or how we do our work can…

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Career Blog: Vacation

Vacation – Plan Now So You Can Enjoy Later!

Summertime means vacation time. We all remember those days when we were younger and vacation meant truly getting away from it all. As adults, that can seem like a long lost luxury. In our hectic…

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How to Approach and Explain Your Career Gap

Embrace it – Don’t Let it Define You. Monica, one of my new clients, wants to relaunch her career in the legal field, after a five-year hiatus during which she focused on raising her children….

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