Kickin’ it with Sidekick: Tarra Stubbins and Mellonie Truong
Celebrating awesome entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs just like you. Learn from others’ stories, successes, advice, and actions.
Meet Tarra Stubbins and Mellonie Truong from Take it Easy Group (and the first Kickin’ it duo)! Together, they lead Take it Easy Group, a company that provides fractional executive assistant services to help entrepreneurs, start-ups, and businesses scale for success.
Take it Easy Group’s team of experienced executive assistants from across North America use proven tactics to help keep leaders and their organizations efficient and effective so that they can focus on growth.
Tarra – Founder & CEO – is a certified Lifestyle Manager, Accountability and Time Management Coach, Celebrity Concierge, and most recently founded Take It Easy Group in 2017. Tarra's passion is helping time-strapped executives and entrepreneurs soar with their own goals, both personally and professionally. Thanks to many years managing the demanding schedules of rock star celebrities and 7-figure CEOs, Tarra brings a ton of hands-on experience and real-deal time management strategies to her clients and also filters it down to her own staff, spanning everything from calendar management and outsourcing to goal-setting and prioritization.
Mellonie – Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer – has an illustrious background in Sales, Marketing & Operations. Mell joined Tarra to grow Take It Easy Group in 2021. Bringing with her over a decade of expertise in client relations, sales, and business development, she is passionate about making impacts and helping start-ups grow. Mell leads with focus, authenticity, and grit, and has a passion for solving problems for both Take It Easy Group and its clients.
We loved how authentic Tarra and Mell were in the stories and learnings they shared with us. They are the true definition of purposeful entrepreneurs. See what they had to say!
1. Was there an exact moment or experience that pushed you to start your organization? Tell us about it!
There was a moment in 2006 when I was standing in the back of a massive staff kitchen in a very fancy hotel in Shanghai trying to get a toothbrush sanitized in the dishwasher. Yes, that’s correct. I used to travel with bands as their personal assistant. I lived on tour buses for up to 300 days a year. At this particular moment, the request was that the toothbrush could never come out of the suitcase without being fully sanitized, and then placed nicely on the sink in the hotel bathroom. So there I was, trying to communicate this ridiculous request, in a foreign language, for about the 20th time that month, and I started thinking … “There must be more to life than this!”
I finished off the tour and opened my first business in 2007. I had zero business background, and back then there were few resources for start-ups.
I was craving to learn from others. I was craving a community of other people
like me. In 2010, a co-working space opened in my city. I think I was the first to sign up for a membership. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever heard of (and was upset I didn’t think of it myself!). I joined every co-working club, event, or community I could. I loved being surrounded by other founders creating amazing products/services that solved real-world problems.
After a few years of being involved in these start-up groups, I started noticing an issue that was present with a lot of new founders and these start-ups in my circle. They seemed to be getting stuck at a certain level of growth and not able to push themselves to grow to be successful. Because of my Executive Personal Assistant background, I started to realize that these founders were lacking the support of a seasoned EA, helping to push them from behind to grow and succeed, while also taking on so many of those tasks that take up most of their time that don’t drive the right ROI for their businesses.
I wanted to help these founders. Not only was I impressed by what they were doing for their start-up communities, but everyone was changing the world in some aspect through their product or service.
I have always been a believer in changing the status quo, disrupting norms, and building innovation in spaces where it is old and dated, or just doesn’t exist. So, I opened Take It Easy Group in 2017 to bridge the gap between these start-up founders, who in my opinion are changing the world, and extremely experienced Executive Assistants.
2. What are your sources of motivation and inspiration? How do you stay motivated / keep your cup full?
There are a few! First are those individuals that I intentionally surround myself with - my friends and colleagues who have a similar mindset & drive that they bring to whatever they do. My second source of motivation is always being intentionally curious. My team knows my favourite question is “why are we doing this?” and brainstorming some awesome answers when we come up with new ideas. Lastly, knowing that Tarra and I are building something that solves a significant gap in the start-up space and hearing from our clients how impactful we can be for their business is probably the biggest motivation of all! Solving problems is my jam!
3. Do you have a personal ethos that helps guide your decisions and choices? What is it and where did it come from?
Take It Easy is built on the drive to see start-ups soar and succeed. The people behind start-ups are the people who are truly changing the world. This guides us every single day, in the decisions and choices we make, both internally as a new organization, and externally when we are deciding if a start-up would be the best partner fit.
With that, we critically think about whether or not we can fill a need for our clients. Every partnership and client relationship we build is based on the questions, “How do we make you successful?” and “What problem can we solve for you”?
4. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Never be afraid to fail and always be authentic. I remember when I first started my business, I had zero business background and no clue what I was doing. I just had an intense drive to help people succeed. The passion to watch others soar allowed me to work through my fears of not knowing where to start. Way back when the Yellow Pages were a thing, I saved up all my money to put a fairly large ad in the book. The day the Yellow Pages were scheduled to be delivered to people’s homes, I sat by my phone (then still a landline!) and honestly thought that people would be calling me all day asking for my services. I learned quickly that this is not how advertising worked, but I knew that if I hadn’t tried, I would have never learned. I didn’t get discouraged, because I still had the drive to want to help others. So, I found other opportunities to get my message out there.
5. How do you encourage innovative ideas and disruptive thinking? How do you develop a culture that embraces this?
With our team of EAs and the type of clients we get to work with, it’s easy to encourage innovative ideas / disruptive thinking. Being surrounded by people who are continuously building and reinventing breeds inspiration. Our EAs are constantly challenged to find new ways to help our founders & start-ups do things better, faster, or more efficiently. The only way you can do that is to think outside the box and disrupt old systems. We’ve been pretty lucky that we’ve built a team of EAs and HR professionals who love to find new and innovative ways to help our clients. This innovation and drive are embedded into our values, which is what makes Take It Easy Group different.
6. What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting your business / current role?
I always thought that the experts who told me to find a niche were being lazy. Why can’t I help everyone? I wanted to help everyone. After a few years of running my concierge business, where I helped anyone from new parents to seniors and celebrities, I realized that my business was suffering because I was trying to change myself so often for the many different audiences I was talking to. My business didn’t scale until I actually focused on a niche. This is something I have taken into all the businesses I’ve started. A niche helps you focus - something I am passionate about in the time management world. Elite athletes and A-list actors focus on their goals 100% of the time and once I discovered this, I could better plan my days, hit my goals faster, and build better businesses.
7. What advice would you give to future entre/intrapreneurs looking to make their mark on the world?
I am still new to the entrepreneurial world - so I am still learning myself! But over the last year (and in many of my previous entrepreneurial-like roles), I’d say to have a big impact and leave your mark, you’re going to need to be resilient, have grit, and hustle hard - because everyone has big ideas, but you need to be relentless and work harder than the rest. Also - find mentors and work with people different than you, who will continuously challenge you to think differently and outside the box.
Find Take it Easy Group on Twitter - @TakeItEasyGroup