Interview with Melanna “Lanna” Cox
Life and Health Coach
What is your Ph.D. about?
My Ph.D. is in kinesiology and my research focuses on social norms and how they impact physical activity in adolescent girls. My research interest truly aligns with my side hustle as it feeds my passion for uplifting girls and women. I also have expertise in the measurement of physical activity using devices that are essentially research grade Fitbits/Apple Watches/etc.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from Ohio and grew up in a military family. I have always been successful and ambitious. I received my B.S. in Exercise Science and almost pursued physical therapy. Until one day, during my senior year, an established researcher came to give a lecture. I asked a question during the Q&A and she was impressed. Within two days, I received an email from my undergraduate mentor telling me the woman was the kinesiology department head and wanted me to apply to their master’s program. Next thing I know, I’m moving to Massachusetts and doing research. Research for the first time ever.
What is your side hustle?
I am a new life coach! My business is all about helping women grow in confidence and using that to cultivate the life they want. The process is much more than telling them to love themselves. It includes deep work and the ability to be vulnerable. I’ve been doing it for free for a while and have absolutely loved it. Now I’m ready to start working towards making this side hustle a 6-figure business one day.
What would you do differently if you had your time over?
I would have started my business sooner. I was fearful for years to even call myself a life coach. How dare I call myself a life coach when I don’t have my life all together! That’s what went through my head. Now that I’ve started the process, I realize that I had nothing to fear. Starting a business during your Ph.D. is challenging, but for me, regretting NOT doing would be much more difficult.
Why did you start your side hustle?
As I mentioned, like many graduate students, I was always successful but I fell into the people-pleaser trap and started doing what others wanted me to do at a very early age. So when starting this business, it gave me the chance to create something that was 100% mine. No one to tell me what it should be or how it should work. And that’s what makes it authentic which I believe is so important for a successful business nowadays. People want real. All in all, I started my business to help others and to give myself what I always wanted for once.
If you could say anything to someone reading this who is considering pursuing a side hustle, what would you say?
I would tell them that they don’t have to choose between academia and their side hustle. You CAN be both an amazing academic AND an awesome entrepreneur. If you were not capable of doing both, you wouldn’t feel the desire to do both.
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