Since our recent blogs have talked about testimonials, I’ll give you an example by sharing a testimonial for our flagship product, Business Mastery. We hear stories all the time about how impactful Business Mastery has been in the development of successful wellness practices. However, our potential customers (more people we could be helping) don’t hear these stories unless we publish them. Melissa was kind enough to share her story in writing (below), and we are so proud to have played a part in her success. Even more, we are extremely happy for the many, many people who will receive good bodywork because of her successes. Thanks, Melissa! ~Deanna Sylvester, Sohnen-Moe Associates


The Infectious Power Of Passion

As I sit down to write this blog post, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for women like Cherie Sohnen-Moe and others like her. They have given their careers to help us—all the massage therapists in the world.

[Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at]

[Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at]

Why have they helped us?

I’m sure they never asked themselves that. They just did it because it was their passion. They were uniquely gifted at communication and fortunate enough to have been placed in just the right circumstances, to use their knowledge for the betterment of those they cared about—us.

Do we ever think about the hard work it took to do all of this for us? I’ll admit I never did until I became a business coach and mentor. There is nothing better than slaving over a program curriculum for five months and then hearing that that program helped a massage therapist, who was struggling, finally succeed.

I remember that utter sense of relief as a massage student, some eighteen years ago.

I’m going to tell a story I’ve never told anyone.

At 27 I enrolled at the New Center (now the NY College of Health Professions) in Syossett, NY, in the Fall of 1997. I had a car that barely made it those 50+ miles every day. Some days I was just lucky enough to buy the gas to get there. The school was amazing.

They had a gourmet holistic cafe and a world renowned herbal pharmacopeia. They even grew and pressed their own wheat grass juice, but hot tea was about the only thing I could afford. Not having grown up in the health centered world most of my classmates were from, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was loudly ridiculed for eating Ramen Noodles at lunch, by a table full of fourth year acupuncture students.

I cried my eyes out in the parking lot for an hour. I just wanted to go home and never come back. Why was I trying to fit into a world that didn’t want me? Yep, self pity and despair had a really good hold of me at that moment.

After I dried my eyes, I went back into the school by a door I’d never used. It led past the library, which I’d never visited. It seemed a good place to hide for a while.

Then I saw it…

I saw the textbook that I couldn’t afford, Business Mastery by Cherie Sohnen-Moe. It was in the reference section. I could actually sit here and use it. I had been too embarrassed, at that point, to ask a classmate if I could borrow it.

I was blown away that she took the time to actually care about my organizational mindset in the first chapter and how she gave resource tips in the margins. It was like a really cool treasure map. I felt like she was speaking to me, not at me. She assumed I knew nothing about the industry and was willing to take me step by step.

Her passion to help and her entrepreneurial spirit became such a comfort to me along the way; as I did eventually come out of my shell and graduate at the top of my class.

Almost two decades would go buy before I met my favorite author again.

I came across Business Mastery again one day when I was searching, and I saw a less than stellar review from some Harvard Business School student. They were putting the book down as remedial. I was so offended, that I had to answer. I let this woman know just how prolific this text actually was, and the impact that it had for me and other women trying to enter a new career. Never mind the economic impact from all the small businesses that have been created worldwide as a result of reading this text. This woman was so humbled by what I said that she wrote a very gracious apologetic response.

…and then I knew.

I had to pay it forward, just like Cherie. I had to take my $100K income story and help others. After all, being a massage therapy instructor had been one of the most personally rewarding things I’d ever done. Even more so to me than actually performing massage. I love it that my students are so successful and still keep in touch. Teaching massage business was my real passion.

Along with my very talented husband, we are recreating my business to assist as many massage therapists as we possibly can. In doing so, we have seen massage therapists reaching out to help other therapists, and breaking down those competitive barriers in our own community. (Read my town’s massage therapists’ latest communal effort to eliminate massage parlors in our town here: How Sexual Predators Target Massage Therapists. [Ed: 2019-Apr. Site ( is no longer active.])

My new coaching business, my better than average income, my community groups, and our efforts all started with a little blue reference book on a library shelf and the author behind it. This is the infectious power of passion at work.

Thank you Cherie!

MelissaStrautmanMelissa Strautman, LMT has a massage practice in Bowling Green, KY and is the CEO of MassageFIX Better Business Academy where she helps massage therapists uncover a more vibrant business for themselves & their clients. She is a married mother of three adults and two teenagers.