But wait, there’s more…often times I’ve been described as a chameleon. Much of my professional life, I worked for luxury brands – delivering brand experiences for our high-end customers. On the other hand, I’ve found myself on horseback, riding through sprawling ranches working to support those who feed our families and this country. The latter always seems to move me to tears and keeps me grounded in awe and heartfelt appreciation for those who feed.
Being a chameleon, has served me well in so many aspects as an entrepreneur, it has developed my people aptitude well beyond my wildest imagination and enabled me to expand my bandwidth when it comes to who I️ serve. At the end of the day, however, no matter who I’m working with, be it in the boardroom or in the barn, I’m a leader. I’m incredibly passionate about business, leadership and teamwork! I️ work really hard and have finally learned it’s equally important to play hard too (this is where motorcycles, 4 wheeling, wave-running and camping come in).
When I was encouraged to write a book and design my second leadership brand, I️ felt it was extremely important for me to be authentic and share my story and my truth, yes, those aspects of my journey that were served-up with an abundance of hard knocks, grit and humble pie. These were the moments, the struggles that offered me the greatest lessons of all. Let’s face it, many of us have been told at various points in our professional and often times personal journeys that we need to improve our people skills, self-included. I️ created the Badass Leader brand with a goal of inspiring every day and up-and-coming leaders – the book and brand I️ needed when I was wrangling with the bull of learning how to lead. #EnjoytheRide #LivetoLead
Here’s the Rest of the Story…
Ever since I can remember I’ve had a passion for motorcycles! I was a Tom-girl at heart, I even had a bedtime skit I’d perform for my parents most nights before I rode off on my imaginary motorcycle to bed. Donning my invisible zip-up gear with what seemed like 100 zippers, the final one always being my fly. I’d forget to zip that one until the last minute – for dramatic affect and laughs, I was ever the attention suck and infamous staller! Biting down on the insides of both cheeks to make the motorcycle sound (potato, potato, potato) then finally after a few attempts to kick-start my bike, I’d tear off down the hallway and up to bed.
Unfortunately for me, motorcycles were vehemently forbidden by my buttoned up autocratic stepfather who viewed them as evil hell-raising machines. Like most somewhat rebel daughters, what dad didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. He was pretty scary, however, so I had to be careful. I would sneak rides during summer break on the back of my mom’s CB500 and play in the yard at my uncle’s house on the neighbor’s dirt bike doing laps until I was dizzy or called-in for supper. My parents were divorced, and mom lived in Atlanta, a far cry from my strict stepfather in Cali so, summers in Hotlanta felt like getting out of prison for good behavior.
When I finally ran away from home at 17, it wasn’t too long before I became a happy passenger on the back of a Honda Shadow 750. Later in my twenties, I thoroughly enjoying weekend getaways and night rides under the stars with my then husband. That was until my relationship ended in divorce and my affair with him and motorcycles came to a screeching halt. Being abstinent from motorcycles somehow kept the heartache away, so I thought anyway.
It wasn’t until my ex-husband’s family reached out to me 11 years later, to let me know he was terminal and desperately wanted to see me one last time for closure and forgiveness. I uneasily agreed to go back to Chicago to see him and ended up staying much longer than anticipated. After spending several months with him and having the opportunity to get back onto the back of the bike once again. I rode with his brother Arturo and remember staining my helmet with tears. I️ couldn’t ride with Al; he could only manage to ride alone. I still I recall the irresistible smile spread wide across his face, just one more ride for old times’ sake. I had missed riding, and him. The heartbreaking reality was relentless, his ride would be coming to an end very soon #F*Cancer.
This part of our journey together was a bitter-sweet time for us both. We did end up having forgiving closure and even rediscovered love, long enough to let it go one last time. During one of our last evenings together he asked me, “what happened to the foot loose, fun-loving, carefree, adventure seeking, motorcycle-loving girl I once knew?” He then asked me to make him a promise. He wanted me to find a biker bar when I got back home to Cali and go there on my birthday to toast to a new beginning, a reawakening of sorts. A toast to finding me again, as well as reigniting my passion for motorcycles. I kept that promise, and 7 days later on my 48 birthday, I went to Cook’s Corner in Southern California to toast to new beginnings! It was on that very afternoon; I met the man who, 5 years later, would become my now hubby, a passionate dirt and street rider. I consider him to be the best gift my ex ever gave me! I am, however, no longer a just a passionate passenger, I’m a rider. I have a dirt bike, quad and 2 street bikes. My very favorite one being my Vintage 1990 Honda Transalp – I LOVE to ride. We are a family of riders, we dry camp under the stars and love to take road trips with friends; adventures are a HUGE part of our life.
In fact, this very story provoked me to build a brand inspired by powersports – Badass Leader. I was fortunate to have Bryan H. Carroll from the award-winning movie Why We Ride not only write the testimonial for my book, there are multiple quotes from his epic movie throughout the book. My Badass Leader brand is an homage in many ways to my long-held passion for the motorcycle community and the metaphor it represents for leadership and Badass Teams who look out for one another #Musketeers. My book is called From Bad to Badass Leader – 12 Leadership Lessons; in it I share my bumps, bruises and lessons learned during my epic ride in learning how to lead like a Badass. #LivetoLead
What is my favorite rider memory?
Wow this is a hard one, I have so many epic memories, this one however, was most emotionally meaningful for me as a passenger – It was the very first time I wrapped around my now hubby on is bike as a passenger…I remember soaking my helmet with tears, I was overwhelmed with pure love and joy – it felt so good to be back and somehow I knew this was the beginning of a life-long love story!
My favorite memory as a rider, was my first road trip on my vintage Transalp with my hubby and our friends to Paso Robles during Covid lockdown. The roads were wide open, the weather was perfect, and the scenery was breathtaking! Rolling vineyards, riding up the coastline and private lockdown balcony wine dinners with 4 friends on quarantine. Paso was like a ghost town and the roads were our playground!
With Love, Michelle –
Badass Leader founder, Michelle Reines was featured in the above link “Continue the Ride” by Progressive Rider Stories – Check-out more rider stories by following the above link. #RideOn