A Fluid Framework™& Strategic Plan: A business plan doesn’t have to be formal, long, scary, or set in stone. Many of the folks we chat with don’t have formal business education and what’s great? You don’t need one to build a business! A business plan helps to communicate with stakeholders where you’re at, who’s on board, where you’re headed, how you’ll get there, and what you’ll need throughout the journey and upon arrival.

As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Mishler of The Cultivated Group.

Born and raised in the rural Midwest of the United States, Emily Mishler is an intrepid optimist with a keen sense of adventure, eye for design, hand in the start-up world, and heart for philanthropy. She is the driving force behind The Cultivated Group and the world of Esmè the Curious Cat — on a mission to ignite and empower individuals and organizations to: “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Specializing in business development, creative strategic planning, and fundraising, Emily launched her first company at the age of 22 and has since raised and distributed over $20M of private investment for private clients, for-profit entities and NGO’s.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Hindsight tends to be 20/20 and all the dots tend to connect looking backward and that’s certainly a trend amidst my own eclectic career path. While I studied Communication and Design at University, helping others through different opportunities was always a focal point. A series of decisions that I perceived to be big risks (at the time) and chose to jump and lean into, whilst always keeping my eyes and ears open for possibility and opportunity were huge contributing factors as my career and life’s mission has continued to unfold. Doors and opportunities presented themselves, to which I bet on myself and said “yes” (albeit sometimes with a bit of fear!) and based on my passions, experiences, and drive to influence the world for the better — stumbled into corporate philanthropy as a career. In August of 2018, I completed a MBA with a concentration in Philanthropy and shortly thereafter, began a new chapter of life in travelling the world and running my own location-independent, impact-driven companies. Nothing like my companies existed at the time we created it, and the intersection of many things brought me to this specific opportunity!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Absolutely! It’s a pleasure to be here — thanks for having us. I’ve always had a knack for adventure, an insatiable curiosity, a creative flair, and a heart for helping others — and my career has absolutely been an extension of that. I grew up on a farm in the middle of the rural United States. We lived very modestly and simply — serving others and giving of what we had was ingrained in our family’s “culture” from a very young age.

I grew up in a very small town in the middle of the Midwest United States. I come from a family of farmers and values like hard work (sometimes to a fault), exploration, diligence, tenacity, and grit were instilled in me from a very young age. Those rural “roots” were a piece of the inspiration behind our companies’ name: The Cultivated Group.

Proudly housing four separate companies under the “Cultivated” umbrella, we’re redefining business as usual for businesses all over the globe (and even in outer space!). Each subsidiary equips organizations and individuals with the tools, skills, resources, frameworks, and funding they need to function fully as profitable, healthy businesses. Our team connects the business brain to the servant-leaders’ heart that’s at the forefront of the business of doing good. The work The Cultivated Group focuses on is all impact-based, which means at the end of the day our goal is to make the world a better place and use businesses and the influence we all have in our day-to-day lives to be the vessels for doing so.

We believe in our lives, we’re given the opportunity to learn, grow, and become through each situation we’re presented with in our lives. In fact, we are presented in our lives with the exact lessons we need in order to become more able to fulfill the purpose of our lives. For me, it isn’t so much about coping — but it is about the deepened understanding and Trust that comes with learning, evolving, and tuning into our life’s purpose. Opportunities like these are where we are given a chance to build the “muscle” it takes to become: to learn, stretch, and grow.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My father was a huge inspiration and influence in my life. He was someone who taught me and in many ways showed me the profound example of living in the courage of our Truth. He was one of my most significant sources of encouragement and inspiration. I am so grateful I had the time and relationship with him that I did and so unbelievably grateful for the friends, mentors, teachers, and allies that have come into my life along the way.

Mentors in my life have come into my life in the most serendipitous ways and their impact in my life has been beyond words. Their ability to share their knowledge and challenge me to grow into my purpose and potential is one of the things in life I value most. The mentors in my life are those who will kick my ass, cheer me on, and will. not. stop.

Although I am incredibly proud of many things in my life that have transpired professionally, I also know and believe we’re just getting started. Recently I was introduced to the idea and reality of our mortality in the passing of the most significant people in my life. After 18 months of traveling around the world independently, exploring and expanding in every direction possible, building and creating companies — I found myself back “home”, having lost my father, in a place I found familiar now operating as an entirely different person. Two weeks after his passing, the United States’ shut-down in March of 2020 and I found myself surrounded by fear and turbulence, completely physically isolated. I don’t know if any of us “have it all figured out” — but I am looking forward to sharing the tools and resources I discovered and employed throughout this challenging time, in hopes it will inspire and assist someone else through the turbulence of different seasons and chapters of life.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries? Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation and how do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

The niche and simultaneous industry-agnosticism is something that’s a bit different! We predominantly work with and serve impact-driven companies, so despite our for-profit business status, many of the tools, systems, and skills we employ and activate with others apply to both for-profit and non-profit businesses.

We have our heart, eyes, minds, and actions set on a mission to bridge the gap between the great ideas, access to opportunity, and taking action to change and preserve this beautiful world in which we live — one challenge at a time. Because both hospitality (experience) and impact are at the core of what we do, we’re thrilled to be jumping into providing experiences through our subsidiary, The Elevated Method.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

For me, it all goes back to the details: the difference between good, great, and excellent is all in the details, thoughtfulness, and intentions of the experiences. I don’t have one “perfect” — I believe life is experiencing the full spectrum of beauty and elegance!

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

Esmè the Curious Cat came about as a way to share lessons learned whilst travelling all over the world. We are so excited to be intentionally and actively engaged in shaking up the tools through which children learn. Esmè the Curious Cat is a children’s book series and brand whose goal is to inspire, empower and educate our children (ages 5–12) to “be the change we wish to see in the world”. Through Esmè’s adventures, travels, challenges, discoveries, and exploration, readers are taught life-lessons, the value of diversity, about conservation and advocacy, how to further employ characteristics of being a good and kind human, generosity, and more. It’s now available on Amazon, at Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold — and the point is that traveling and exploration of this beautiful world expands and grows each element of our being often so much more than we recognize to be possible. Rather than counting the number of cities and countries; the focus is on the experiences and really relishing, connecting, and learning through each gift we’re given in life — travel-related or not! A huge part of the “wellness” shift for me was learning to take care of my body and self throughout travel (quality of experience & care) and dropping the expectations and ego as a part of the experience. Really learning to taste and savor each of the flavors!

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.

Absolutely! Thanks so much for asking. From my perspective, two main factors that distinguish successful starts from unsuccessful ones are the ability and strength to employ agility as-needed and a resounding undertone of grit and tenacity. In my opinion, becoming successful does not require difficulty — it can be handled with elegance, ease, and simple solutions. However, sometimes to get to that point, it can be a learning and growing process — and that’s life. Both of those factors require one to lead with curiosity, trust yourself, trust your team, and the deep understanding and confidence in our ability to overcome obstacles and challenges — remaining on the end-goal despite turbulence.

Rather than focusing on a tech stack, resources, degrees, or capital — I believe for this conversation moreso than those assets, it’s incredibly important to talk about the kind of leader and person you’re becoming — and the kind of company you’re building. The character of the leadership and organization, and how that’s reflected through deliberate, aligned action. Especially at the beginning, the people involved are your most important asset whether they’re internal or external stakeholders. And in order to create things with other people, that requires us to communicate effectively, efficiently, and infusing our communication with the kind of energy we want to build and nourish the company with. The way I see it, five things that will really help in the long-run to create a highly successful startup are:

  1. Infuse with Intention: Intention is the energy we put into an act, a word, or a feeling. … Intention is what makes the difference between creating an outcome of joy, and one of misalignment. Intention is how we create a world and a life by design, instead of by default. Clarity of intent (or desire) can only arise when you are willing to connect with yourself and thus get a sense of the experiences you wish to have, that feel aligned with you, based on awareness of your present life and knowing yourself as you truly are.
  2. Clarity of Purpose: When you are absolutely clear about what you want to achieve, you can then formulate a solid plan to get there and take the right action to produce the right result. Clarity of business purpose acts as a powerful performance catalyst. Such a sense of purpose is proven not just to enhance team morale and performance but also to be a powerful initiator of innovation and service quality.
  3. Clarity of Vision: Clarity of vision is knowing what you want the future to look like and what steps need to be taken to get there. Developing clarity of vision requires investing in the education and time needed to truly understand what you’re chasing, and it requires saying no to the things that can distract you from it. When your team recognizes that their activities are consistent with the vision you’ve shared with them, business processes will experience fewer interruptions and roadblocks will be discovered early. In real terms, this translates to greater productivity and profitability. Steps 1–3 of this clarity loop all provide incredibly valuable focus.
  4. A Mission and Vision: From concept to formation, to implementation, chances are your dreams are going to grow. At The Cultivated Group, we believe that if your dreams include only you, they’re too small. If that’s the case, you’re going to need more incredible, intentional, aligned, passionate, and purpose-driven people around you and in order to move things forward, effective communication will be critical. Two incredible tools to communicate and align your team are your mission and vision statements. These communicate why your organization exists (mission) and what you will accomplish (vision). As we worked with clients, we recognized that this isn’t as common-practice as we’d hoped and to fill a growing need, we put together a few free resources at The Elevated Method — one of which is a Mission & Vision Statements Guide!
  5. A Fluid Framework™& Strategic Plan: A business plan doesn’t have to be formal, long, scary, or set in stone. Many of the folks we chat with don’t have formal business education and what’s great? You don’t need one to build a business! A business plan helps to communicate with stakeholders where you’re at, who’s on board, where you’re headed, how you’ll get there, and what you’ll need throughout the journey and upon arrival. We have a thorough (and fun!) workbook to get you started: here!

5–10 years down the road, do you know exactly where you’ll be? Good, us either. Building out a strategic plan isn’t about mapping out every single piece of the company’s journey you’re building, but it is about orienting your compass to True North, plotting out the next few moves (years) of the journey on a map, and communicating that to everyone who needs to know. This provides a pulse on the direction you’d like to go, and a basic framework of how you plan to get there with measurable success milestones along the way. Curious? Here’s a quick template to get the juices flowing!

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

For us, it’s all about paying it forward and equipping and empowering others. Our organization is driven and led by the mantra and mission “be the change you wish to see” in the world. Our mission is to connect impactful ideas and opportunities to provide access, action, and ignite equity to change and preserve our world.

Because we believe life happens in the full spectrum and we understand that sometimes founders need the right tools and guidance to activate and ignite their ideas, we recently launched a product offering of download-able business building tools to move the needle in business and life. We’re providing equitable access to business consulting without the hourly fee through a new branch of our companies called The Elevated Method. We’re transforming businesses from the inside-out, creating through purpose with intention: we’re elevating the art of living.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Thank you! That’s very kind — and a really tough question, especially considering the state of the world at the moment. If I could inspire a movement, as simple as it sounds, it would be one of leading our lives with kindness, consideration, and thoughtfulness. Each of us has different experiences, all of which have inherent value, and if we’re open to it there is much we can learn from one another! That is how we begin to change the world: first through extending that kindness, thoughtfulness, and consideration inward; and then outward.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Emily Mishler

Instagram: @emilymishler

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emily.mishler

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilymishler

Website: www.emilymishler.com

The Cultivated Group

Instagram: @thecultivatedgroup

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecultivatedgroup

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-cultivated-group

Website: www.thecultivatedgroup.co

The Elevated Method

Instagram: @theelevatedmethod

Website: www.theelevatedmethod.com

Esmè the Curious Cat:

Instagram: @esmethecuriouscat

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/esmethecuriouscat

Website: www.esmethecuriouscat.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.