About the episode:
This episode features Elena Nuñez Murdock, an entrepreneur, former youth minister, and the founder of Mission to Launch among other companies (yes, that's plural!). We talk about Elena's background working in ministry, her transition from ministry to working in the corporate world, and what she's doing with Mission to Launch to encourage more young, Catholic professionals to step out in faith and live out the dreams and calling that God has for them.
Listen to this week's episode:
Meet Elena Nuñez Murdock
Elena Nuñez Murdock has worked with executives from the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, UBS, Atomix Ventures, Succession Investments, over 70 startups such as Sheerly Genius, Family Offices, Private Equity Firms, and Venture Capital Firms investing in tech you can touch, food + AG tech, medical, luxury retail, blockchain, green tech, fintech, and education. She is passionate about serving visionary entrepreneurs and works to establish them as national thought leaders by placing them in top-tier podcasts, tv shows, digital and print media.
She coined the term "tech you can touch" for Venture Capital firms working with startups in "hard tech," a term now used in the vernacular by seed-stage VC's on the West Coast.
Elena managed a 350 million dollar brand, has developed PR strategies for 2-25 mil tech products, and co-rebranded a 1.5 billion-dollar company in under 90 days.
Her third company, Mission to Launch, addresses the need for virtue based content for Catholics and Evangelical Christians who are professionals and looking to thrive in their workplaces. Mission to Launch has courses in English and Spanish taught by CEOs and senior executives. Classes include the “Art of Interviewing,” “Translating your Christian Values into Effective Negotiation,” “Networking 101,” and 10+ others. To address the lack of mentors available to professionals, alt-Mentors hailing from privately owned and public top companies such as Goldman Sachs, KPMG, Boeing, and over 30 Fortune 100 companies serve members through interactive interviews. Mission to Launch also has a peer community and internship program in partnership with over 15 companies.
She holds a BA from Franciscan University of Steubenville and studied Organizational Design at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Elena is passionate about philanthropy and advising, sitting on the boards of the Catholic Community Foundation of Los Angeles, the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders, and is a Distinguished Fellow at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America.
00:10 RACHEL WONG: This is The Feminine Genius Podcast, a podcast that celebrates all women of God and their unique genius. I'm your host, Rachel Wong.
00:30 RACHEL: After many years of serving in ministry, Elena Nuñez Murdock pivoted from her time in ministry to become a full time entrepreneur. It was a process that taught her many lessons about resilience and self confidence. But best of all, she was able to build on her experiences in ministry and bring them into the workplace. With this in mind, Elena founded Mission to Launch, an all-in-one platform that equips and mentors those who are ready to transition from ministry into the corporate world, and encourages them to live life to the full. In this episode, Elena and I talked about the experiences she gained while working in ministry, what inspired her to found Mission to Launch and the fact that we're not just made for scarcity: we're made to thrive and live abundantly.
01:33 RACHEL: Hi Elena!
01:34 ELENA NUÑEZ MURDOCK: Hi, Rachel! Thank you so much for having me on.
01:37 RACHEL: It is my pleasure! Thank you for being here, and I was wondering if you could start by introducing yourself to our listeners and sharing a little bit of what it is that you do right now.
01:47 ELENA: Sure. So I currently work in PR [public relations] and in strategic networking for mostly venture capitalists, private equity executives, real estate developers, and family offices. So pretty much anything in finance, PR, business-wise I deal with, and I absolutely love my job. Prior to that, though, I was the director of youth and young adult and college ministries in the Archdiocese of Miami, I did that for about three years. And before that, I got my degree in theology at Franciscan University. But since then, I have an alt-MBA from Northwestern University at the Kellogg School of Management, and I studied at the Stanford Business School. So I started out in the Catholic world, and then I kind of transitioned into PR, which is what I currently do as my main business. And then during COVID, I launched my third business called Mission to Launch.
02:34 RACHEL: I'm always so impressed whenever I hear your story. I've listened to a couple interviews that you've given about the work that you do, and of course Mission to Launch, which I know we're going to jump into, but I'm always just so impressed and inspired, because I feel like many people struggle to start one business, and here you are, and you've started your third. So congratulations all around and God bless the work that you're doing, because I know that there's such an intimate tie between your faith, of course, and where you've come from, and the work that you're doing now. So that's really cool!
03:02 ELENA: Thank you, thank you.
03:03 RACHEL: As I kind of alluded to, and you mentioned this as well, you have your degree in theology, but I'd love to hear if we go even prior to going to Franciscan, if you could share a little bit of your faith journey and how you've come to know Jesus in the way that you do now.
03:16 ELENA: Sure. So in high school, I didn't really... our family went to mass on Sundays, I was starting to go to daily mass. I would say my senior years where I really got serious about my faith, because I parents wanted to homeschool me because they had discovered homeschooling and I had four younger siblings at the time, now I have five! And I did not want to be homeschooled to those you know, your senior year is like the year you know, you don't want to leave! So my parents said that if you can find a way to get to school, which is over 40 minutes away, then you can go. You just can't drive there and you can't take the school bus that comes from the school to our town to like pick people up specifically.
So I did a pretty much like a mini perpetual novena to St. Therese [of Lisieux], and I started going to mass every day during that summer at like 8 AM. During the summer for high school student I guess is unusual. Long story short, I did get a way to go to high school, finish out my senior year. Because of St. Therese, my firm belief—and that's why, I don't know if you can see her, but I have a huge statue of her behind me—but that's when like, I started to really believe that God was real, more than just going to mass and like, okay, like we do this thing on Sundays. That's when it really kind of hit me that there is somebody out there, you know. It wasn't a question that that He didn't exist ever, so that's a good thing. And I know a lot of my friends in high school struggle with that. It wasn't like a thinking thing, but it was more of like a conscious like, like, okay, there is someone here for me.
And then I went to Franciscan and I studied theology. It was kind of the opposite path that my parents have taken because they went to Stanford, my dad taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, so I very much went the opposite way of my parents. It was more of like a 'blazing a trail of my own' versus wanting to go to a Catholic university, but I did visit Franciscan. And like, as soon as I stepped on campus, it was so much peace that I had never experienced before in like a place. Like I had been to the Vatican, we had traveled and been to like Lourdes, which is very peaceful, but it was still like with my parents, so it was very much part of what they were doing. But when I went to Franciscan, I remember like coming up on the hill. And I just remember there was just so much peace. I'm like, I want to stay here forever kind of thing.
I ended up going, studied theology, and then after that I became a youth minister. But I would say St. Therese really helped me. Anytime I needed help with a job—and still with clients—I pretty much asked her for help. And then Mary... interesting that I picked today because I've had a difficult relationship with Mary. And it was like she... this year that I did a emergency rosary novena. And I realized I had trouble relating to Mary because I never thought that she was a woman of action, and I very much view myself as a woman of action being in business. And then I was meditating randomly on the Visitation. And I was like, "Oh, wait!" Mary made this decision to go visit her cousin, which is a brave and bold decision that a woman could do 2000 years ago,. That wasn't like the cultural norm to like, go and make decisions on your own. So I realized that I could relate to her and that completely changed it. So that was the recent of this year. It's been an interesting relationship with Mary, for sure!
06:20 RACHEL: Oh, that is so beautiful. Yeah, I mean, two incredible women! You know, you talked about Mary and St. Therese, and you kind of alluded to why it is that you chose the Visitation in this relationship with Mary for Mission to Launch. But just before I get there, I want to jump back to why you chose St. Therese. Is there a particular reason like growing up or why you were drawn to her and eventually why it is that you prayed that novena during that senior summer to her?
06:47 ELENA: So when I was growing up, I had back surgery, and I was actually on the feast of St. Therese, and my spine is all fused up with titanium like Wolverine. But [laughs] it's like totally normal! I don't even notice it anymore. But the surgery was on her feast day and I picked her for a confirmation saint, so I'm not entirely sure like what drew me towards her and it just has always kind of been there.
And then also when I was in high school, I was thinking briefly for a time that I wanted to be a Carmelite cloistered nun because of the St. Therese. I read the Story of a Soul, my family is also very close to a couple of Carmelite monasteries in Georgetown, California, which is a little bit farther north of Sacramento, beautiful area. And so I had this idea for a while that I was maybe called to that. I was obviously not called to that because I would be there currently! But she's always kind of there. And just, she's always, like, come through for me more than any other saint, I would say.
07:41 RACHEL: Wow! I love that so much. You know, we go through our lives, like you're saying, you had all these experiences, you know, some difficult and some extremely miraculous, and she has always been there, she's always come through. And you know, so many people have said to me, yeah, it's not really us that pick the saints, the saints that pick us and befriend us. And just hearing you share all of that just kind of rings true for me where yes, the saints are looking out for us and it's not this, like big chasm where they're inaccessible, or they don't care about us. They desire to journey with us and that's really cool. I love that so much.
08:18 ELENA: There's something that I say about the saints too, especially for those of us in the working professional world, that the saints are [an] executive board in heaven.
08:26 RACHEL: Yes!
08:26 ELENA: They get to like, you know, advise us in a way and you know, they're close to the big man Himself, so! You know?
08:33 RACHEL: Yeah, yeah, and that's such an apt image for you being in business, being a woman of action as you described. But just as we look at that transition to business—and it's interesting that you mentioned your dad had taught at Stanford, or maybe still does teach at Stanford. So obviously, you spent a period of time working in ministry, you were doing youth ministry. I was curious to know what that was like and what was then the, I guess, the moment that you realized it was time to transition?
09:01 ELENA: Sure. So I did middle school, high school, confirmation, young adult, college, altar service, and parent ministry, and like other odd ministries in between, like anything relating to the school. Middle school and parent ministry were my favourites. There was not really a huge middle school program when I went in, but middle schoolers are such sponges, and they're like, they don't hate you yet! Like high school is so hard, because they're just so much of a, you know, the hormones and the personalities. They're just like, all coming out in the same time. And they're like usually not there of their own accord. But the middle schoolers, I built it up, and it's called the Sparks Ministry. And I actually built that ministry in a couple different places as a volunteer, but I loved the middle school. I think it's such a critical age. If you answer their questions, and like get to them and they like absorb it and they understand it, I think they have a much higher chance of staying with the faith, versus if you get to them in high school. They're kind of have been like almost made a decision already, and it's much harder to get through to them in a sense, because everybody's trying to get through to them. And then I also love parent ministry because parents teach their kids catechesis first. And they're hopefully with their kids more than they're at school. So for me, it was critical to answer questions and minister to the parents, which I'm still very passionate about. I think every parish should have focus on a parent ministry, versus just having like kids ministries.
I enjoyed it tremendously had a great team of volunteers. It's definitely working in the professional world, like non-ministry world is much easier, in a sense, because you don't have to wrangle volunteers. Like as... in youth ministry, you have to wrangle all these people and be like, people are not paid to be there. So I think it's quite a miracle for people who are in ministry in general, like you have to wrangle a lot of people and train them. It's like herding cats! I don't know it was, you know, it's an amazing thing, really! [laughs] It gives you a lot of skills. But I really enjoyed it.
Where I realized I needed to leave is I... in the United States, when [Barack] Obama was president, and he came down with this, like, 40 hour workweek, basically, and there was at a certain point, people who were in ministry could not be exempt. Some positions were, some positions weren't, and my position was not [exempt]. So I had to fit all of my ministry time into 40 hours a week. And I was like, "You cannot build relationships in 40 hours, like that's not possible!" And PR, which is all about relationships, I work probably 80, 90 hours a week, but it's you know, it's super fun. But I was very frustrated that I couldn't go to like kids' games, and I was like, not even reporting hours, and I was getting in trouble for going like super over hours. It was just so frustrating, um, and I wasn't allowed to do a lot of the work that needed to be done to build those relationships, because of the hours constriction. And I was like, "This is ridiculous. If I'm not recording the hours, why does it matter?"
So at that point I was like, I really need to, like get out because I was getting burned out. I was seeing kids not being ministered to and families that needed kind of like those extra couple hours, I wasn't able to give that. So I was like, well, this is not gonna work. So I ended up leaving in 2016, and then from there, my dad actually was the one who told me, he's like, "I think you'd make a great entrepreneur." [laughs] And he was right! Just my skill set. I think a lot of people actually coming from industry in general have the potential to be amazing entrepreneurs because you create things out of nothing. You have a lot of skills and people management and dealing with very difficult people, which happens a lot, especially as you're building your business, you do have to deal with a lot of people, you can't really say no a lot of the time. So I think coming out of ministry, it built me up in a great way to be an entrepreneur, but I loved having my own businesses ever since. But being in ministry was such a joy and I really do miss the middle school and parent ministry, High schoolers are great too, but middle school is best!
12:49 RACHEL: And I have to agree with you, they really are saints in the making, because like you said, they have to do so much with so little sometimes. And then on top of that, like you're saying, what really struck me was just how you can't do all of the relational things, like, you can't build a ministry in 40 hours a week, like there's no way. My sister's youth minister, and you know, I see her sometimes working odd hours or just trying to fit things in here or there. Because sometimes like that's when people are online, especially now in COVID. You have to do online ministry or you have to reach out to people in a certain way, at a certain time, that may not fit very nicely into your typical 9-5, 40 hour a week work week. So I just find that to be so exciting. It's a real joy that certain people have these skills and also to the drive and the desire to continue to pour out of themselves, even though it might be awkward and challenging with the hours and stuff. So thank you for the work that you've done and what you continue to do!
Once you made that transition out of ministry, and you heard your dad say, "Yeah, I think you'd make a really great entrepreneur." From there, what did you study and how did you kind of get to that place where you're like, "I think I'm ready to start my first business"?
14:03 ELENA: Yeah, it wasn't as [laughs] as organized as that! It was more just like, "Okay, I'm leaving ministry, I must, you know, do something to support myself." So I pretty much immediately went on to consulting for non-profits, 'cause that was the closest thing. And I had had a couple of offers to do marketing, I learned how to do marketing in youth ministry, 'cause you have to market to people and understand your audience, understand what they need and what they want, which is a lot of basically what marketing is. So I started doing marketing, and I wasn't super good at it. Like, what I was really good at was the relationship building, but I didn't know necessarily how to do PR [or] what that was.
So I ended up working with a major donor from a non-profit. And he was like, "I really need what you're doing but like for me! I need something called a personal brand." And I was like I had no idea what that was at that point. [laughs] I was like, "Okay, but I don't know what that is. So I can't really help you." He's like, "Well, here's a budget and go figure it out." He's like, "I'm on LinkedIn." And so I went on LinkedIn, I figured out how to get him trending and like hashtags and on LinkedIn News. Started learning a little bit about PR then, got him into something in Forbes, something very basic. And then kind of just started growing, and I was in Austin, Texas—I had moved from Miami to Austin, Texas at the time—was working with a couple of parishes and building up ministries as a volunteer, but then really more focusing on LinkedIn specifically and building up somebody's personal brand. So then I sort of became an expert, there's not a lot of people who've worked specifically with LinkedIn, so I built up quite a few clients around that, which was wonderful. But it wasn't like, "Oh, I'm going to decide to launch a business," it was more like, thrown into the fire, like "I need to do this to earn a living." And so it just kind of happened and growing along the way.
I started taking courses at Stanford University, at Northwestern, and just kind of where I needed to learn skills, I would try to go to university instead of... I know a lot of people find skills on YouTube. But I was like, there's a lot of burn rate on YouTube, like you can Google a lot of stuff. And there's a lot of content there, but not all of it is useful. So I just went straight to like the quote unquote, "authority". Basically, you got something called like alt-MBA from Northwestern. So I took all the MBA classes, I just never actually got my MBA, because I was super busy running my business. I learned a lot about communications and a lot about organizational management and design. So I implemented all of that on the fly when I was doing that work. So I still don't have an MBA, probably won't have time to get an MBA ever, but that's okay, because the MBA doesn't really teach you a lot about business, it teaches a lot of theory, and what you need to know to run a business we really learn when you're getting burned and thrown into the fire, essentially.
16:40 RACHEL: Wow, being thrown into a fire is a perfect image, because as you're telling the story, and it's kind of like, oh, my gosh. I would be so stressed out. Just to be like, you know, "Here's some money, learn how to personally brand me!" And I'm like, "What? I don't I don't know how to do that!" So what was that like to really navigate all of these new things. Like, you had to take on so much probably, and you had to really learn a lot of things in a short amount of time—again, another great skill to take with you! It's a wonderful asset. So what was that experience like to just have to do all that and learn things so quickly?
17:12 ELENA: Yeah, it wasn't really a thinking thing, it was more just like a doing thing. And unless I thought about, like, the fact that I don't know how to do these things, and more just did them, it became easier. I was super stressed. I've been probably stressed for the last four years consistently! [laughs] It's really a question of like, how do you manage that stress and how do you pray through that and how do you have a work life balance, which is something I've neglected, unfortunately this year and had to take some time off. It's just more of a doing thing. And the less you question yourself, the less you think that like, "Oh, I can't do this," or like, "These people have done so much more than me," all the things that run through your head in terms of like imposter syndrome, which is a very real thing. And the more you just do things, and the more, I think also, responsibility you take on, the more you become more competent. And you're like, "Oh, yeah, I can do that." And then you can mentor other people, and give them a leg up, hopefully.
I'm very passionate about mentoring, and also about philanthropy. And then I also learned about sitting on boards in terms of non-profits, which led me to my top goal for the next, I would say, two years or so, is to be the youngest woman in the United States to sit on a publicly traded company board. So the youngest woman right now is 32, I just turned 30 last month, which gives me so little time to do that! I think having really big goals and dreams, really important. And I think also growing up as Catholic, we're not—at least, I wasn't—taught how to dream and how to have bigger goals and accomplish those things. It was really more, again, trial by fire, which I think it's so important. I think people ministry are uniquely equipped to handle it. Because there is so much stress in industry, you're worried about, like your kids, and you're worried about budgets and you're worried about different relationships, and there's always infighting, and like so many things! So again, it's a very doing thing. And I would just, you know, encourage people who are listening, if you're thinking about something instead of thinking about it, I would just do it. There's definitely prayer, yes, you should start with prayer, but you can't just pray the entire time! We're not in cloisters and monasteries! You do have to act.
There's a lot of action involved, whether you're in college, or whether in the professional world ministry, you do have to act. So if you're have a dream that you haven't really like, "I'm going to achieve this, you know, in so many years when I have X, Y and Z", like it's going to happen if you don't start acting now. So I'm very, very much proponent of taking big, bold, brave actions.
19:29 RACHEL: I love that. Yes. And it's so good and it's so important to pray. And like you said, Elena, you really should be doing that first, you know, trying to center what it is that you're doing—a project, a business, a podcast, whatever it might be, you need to center that and root it in God Himself, because He really is the one that will lead you and help you to make whatever decisions, make whatever moves you need. But ultimately, at some point, you have all the maps drawn up, but you're going to have to get in the car and start the car and start moving! So I really appreciate the use of that because I feel like so many times we do get paralyzed in fear and paralyzed in all the things that we need to do. But sometimes the best step is the first step. I just appreciate you sharing that.
And I think it's a good time, maybe, to pivot and talk about Mission to Launch. You know, like you said, it's the newest one of your ventures as we're recording this and it very nicely fuses together everything that we've been talking about. So obviously, your history and your background in youth ministry and working in like parent ministry and doing all those kinds of things, and then eventually transitioning into business and how you have this alt-MBA. And then in particular, what I love about what you just shared was this passion for mentorship, and it's so clearly woven into the fabric of Mission to Launch. So I was wondering if you could share with listeners what Mission to Launch and whatever you want to share about it, because I know there's so many aspects to it. So I'll let you take the reins from here.
20:52 ELENA: Thank you! Yes, Mission to Launch is an e-course experience. And it's more than just like classes. We also have alt-mentorship, a peer community and also an internship or job board. And I started Mission to Launch because it was in youth ministry and I went through a transition even though I knew that I wanted to have my own business, I still went through a very difficult transition, even though my dad told me that I, you know, should be an entrepreneur. My parents told me that, you know, "You won't succeed because you've been in ministry and you wasted your early 20s." I was told by mentors that I had from Stanford, "You were just in ministry, and you should have been Stanford, you know, you're not going to be able to be successful." And then from youth ministry mentors, who are now lifelong youth ministers—which very few people actually have a calling to, I believe—also told me like, they may have tried to leave ministry at one point, and were telling me from their experience, they're like, "You're not going to make it either, you're just going to go back to ministry and this is going to be like a fun little experiment you have!"
And so I was, I was just... I was very discouraged, very isolated. And I did move to Austin, Texas without knowing anybody, so it was definitely part of it! But... and then also, not only that, but seeing my friends who had been in youth ministry for a couple years or parish life, or missionaries, and they felt called to leave ministry, but didn't have maybe the experience that my parents had who were in business. And so wanting to leave, and were definitely like getting burned out, but didn't have that direction. [They] would have dreams, but then were like, would encounter something difficult and then they would be like, "Oh, well, maybe this is not the will of God for me." And then go back into ministry where they were clearly not called. And I believe you're being called out or something, you should not stay in that place and you're going to do harm, maybe not noticeable harm, but it is harming them because somebody else shouldn't be there.
So Mission to Launch is really initially designed for people who are leaving ministry, who needed a place to land but also need to learn skills to thrive in the professional world and learn how to dream big and learn how to be authentically themselves while still staying Catholic. So then that was initially designed, and now we've kind of pivoted a little bit to include not just ministry professionals, but if you're a young Catholic professional, or you're, you know, young adult or adult working in the workplace. We've have had people work in like Johnson & Johnson or Clorox for like 10, 12 years who have signed up. But if you're looking to thrive in the workplace, and you've been to like a state school or a Catholic school, you're not really taught how to interview, you're not really taught how to negotiate, network, how to dream with the perspective of God has placed these dreams on your heart, they're meant to be fulfilled. But because the world is telling us and university, even the Catholic universities, tell us we have to fit into a box, and like that is what you got your degree in, that's all you do. That is so false!
And so I was very frustrated seeing people thriving, and I think we are all created to thrive, we're all created the image and likeness of God who doesn't want us to survive and starve. He wants us to live abundantly, He wants us to experience beauty. And for me, I was raised in a very beautiful environment. And I do love staying in hotels, and I feel like the way I experienced the love of God is staying in luxury hotels and seeing His beauty, because He created those people who create those experiences. But in the Catholic world, there's a lot of demonizing of wealth and a lot of demonizing a beautiful things because it could be to sin, which is a very puritanical way.
So I wanted to create a very prestigious experience for people who are coming from ministry or just Catholics who have not experienced the beauty of God in that way. And in terms of experiencing the beauty of God in Mission to Launch, we're building a platform that has a very premium feel and also have instructors from like Stanford, Harvard, IMD [Business School] in Switzerland, which is the number one executive MBA program in the world. CEOs of multi-million, multi-billion dollar companies, an NBA team owner, Goldman Sachs, finance, all that fun stuff. But all these people are like the world's top 1% of leadership, who really believe that well-formed Catholics, especially us younger generations, need to thrive and need to be authentically ourselves and learn how to do that. They very much saw Mission to Launch as kind of solving that problem. And if we're Catholic and we know how to interact in the workplace, not like standing on the desk and inviting people to bible study, but just being ourselves and being Christ-like in the workplace, we have the best opportunity to reach other people who are fallen away Catholics—there's a lot of fallen away Catholics, and they're not in parishes, you know, they're not on Catholic Instagram. They're not listening to Catholic podcasts, they are in the workplace! And if we're talking about the New Evangelization, that's where we're really going to reach people.
So a lot of these executives saw Mission to Launch as that answer, and Mission to Launch is really here to help people and like, wherever their dreams lead them. Then we have the alt-mentorship, which is mentorship that messiness, in that it's very hard, often say, for young adults to find mentors, hard to find good match, and like the, you know, the scheduling and all that. And then also executives have often been burned by young adults, because of times commitments or like canceling at the last minute, which, like, I have a mentor that I meet with once a year, and I schedule about 10 months in advance. And then they've had people who have canceled on them! Like, and then they were like, "Oh, can you meet tomorrow?" I'm like, no, that's not how that works! So alt-mentorship also allows executives to mentor at scale. So that means that our paying members get to ask questions, let's say you have an investing question and you want to ask someone who worked at Goldman Sachs, or who owns a $1.5 billion real estate company, or something like very much for that kind of mentor, you get to ask that, submit questions to my staff, we send those questions to the alt-mentors, they record those questions as if they're in a mentorship meeting or informational interview. And then we upload that content to our platform. So if you have a difficult situation, at work, or in college, and you're trying to figure that out, you can 'Google' that situation, essentially, within our platform, and then that mentorship video would come out. So mentorship on demand is also something that doesn't exist. I'm super excited to pioneer that as well.
26:39 RACHEL: Yeah, there's so many aspects of this platform. So again, it congratulations to you and the whole team that's running it. I've had the privilege of watching one of the videos, and actually, it's interesting that you're talking about dreaming, it's a wonderful skill. So one of the videos that I was able to preview was January Donovan's course on the importance of dreaming and dreaming big and like you said—I don't think necessarily, this is an innately Catholic thing—I think just humans in general, sometimes we really do sell ourselves short. And we neglect to really put ourselves out there and really dream big. But then in particular, like you were saying, God has written these desires on our hearts, like he wants us to be magnanimous and ask big things, and also expects that you can do big things in our lives. It's a wonderful course and it was a wonderful opportunity to do that. So my thanks to you for giving me that opportunity.
In all these things that you talked about, what have been some of the big 'aha' moments? Big things that maybe surprised you or moved you about mission to launch and what people have been doing within the platform so far?
27:46 ELENA: Sure. I think the biggest thing is that, on a business side, I launched this less than seven months ago, which I would say everybody was like, you're crazy for doing that! Because if you're designing a company that's product based for consumers, usually what spend like a couple years of like research and development, talking to people, and I was very convicted that I've had this experience, I know other people who are going through this experience. I was not planning on launching Mission to Launch for another year or so, I had other goals that I had. But then I saw a lot of people being laid off from ministry and had nowhere to go. And they're either moving back home with their parents and were just miserable. And I was like, "Okay, people need to be served now."
So I have that concept. And I knew that it could serve people, but then people standing up and saying within one week of taking, like the first course of their life was changed forever, that was like a very huge confirmation. And very much like, I knew this had the potential and the possibility to do something amazing. But then when people sign up—and we have testimonials on our website from a few people and on Instagram saying that their life could have been changed and now some of them are living their dream now. That was like, wow, this does have the potential to scale, basically, you always have the theory like, "Yes, I know, this can serve people", but it has to go to market, it has to be bought first to prove that concept. So that was more of like, this is a real thing. This is something that I can really work on.
I think for me personally was realizing that I still had an ego, and I thought I had done a lot of work on my ego. But there's a lot more that needs to be done. In terms of starting a business I self-funded Mission to Launch, which, looking back, I didn't do it again, I would probably accept funding. But I was so concerned about the mission—no pun intended—that I didn't want to dilute that by accepting other investors. But I think looking back, I should have trusted a little bit more and not been as scared. But working in the finance world and seeing what venture capital firms can do to start-ups, I was a little bit afraid of that but should have trusted a little bit more and have faith. It's okay, it's always a learning process.
And then in terms of what's happening on the platform—so we've had several people who were discerning out of ministry. We're not asking people to leave industry and go into business. If you're being called out or if you've left ministry, which is a lot of people, this is the program for you because we teach you how to dream, we teach you the basics skills that are not taught at university level or even at the MBA level. So there are people in the program before discerning out of industry already. And then they realized taking the program like, "My dreams are actually real! And like they're here!" And I want to feel like one person was leaving youth ministry in January and just becoming a full time real estate investor, real estate deals, which is super awesome and super cool! And she didn't study that at all and she just got her master's in theology. And then we're just seeing people react to the community and just becoming a little more open and becoming less afraid, which is really amazing. I think, especially during COVID times when we're going through a transition, it's hard to open up because a lot of like, one's friends, like my friends for example, were like, "Why are you leaving ministry? You know, you're doing the wrong thing, you're not going to be able to serve God." So it's like coming together in a place where you feel like okay, I'm really struggling with prayer. I'm really struggling this way. I'm struggling with family, but also going through a career transition or trying to find a new job. We have a couple of people who are Catholic young professionals who were never in ministry but lost their job due to COVID. Like, how do I build these skills up to find something else or find my dream? It's really amazing meeting people so committed, and it's kind of like a learn at your own pace kind of a situation. We've released courses every three weeks. But it's really just amazing just seeing people like come together and people want a community, too. It's one thing that they like for you to provide community but then will participate in it is something completely different.
31:29 RACHEL: Right! All these great things, so it's exciting to see how just in such a short amount of time how much has been able to be achieved, but also just like that faith,
I think. You mentioned that you had that lesson that you had to learn yourself about managing your own ego and stepping out in faith. But all of this took place in such a short amount of time and it really just goes to show, at least for me as an outsider, like God's providence and dreaming big and being able to really take this desire, this passion, this need and how it is that you can take all the things that you've learned in your own life and then give back and mentor other people.
You mentioned this earlier when we were talking about Mission to Launch, there is that demonization of wealth and there really is a very stark contrast and I would even say like a tug of war between those two worlds. You know that next step, I can imagine can be very scary, especially when people talk and you hear so many stories of other people's experiences so, maybe like, for anyone who is listening who has dreams, like they have those aspirations or they feel like they have to make a change. But they are worried that people might say something or maybe they themselves are worried that if I leave, does that make me a bad Catholic? What do you have to say to those people?
32:48 ELENA: Yeah. So I would say that wealth is not a bad thing, it's where your intention is. So when Jesus, for example, in the gospel was talking about the rich man not going to heaven because it was easier for a camel to pass through an eye of an needle than the rich man to go to heaven? The rich man was so attached to the things that he had, he was not able to let go and be detached and follow Christ. He asked him to sell all his things, you know, and follow them and be a disciple, essentially, which is a calling. So then a lot of people equate that to like, "Oh, I have to sell my things and be poor to follow God." It's really very your intention is. If your intention is to have all the things and to have the McMansions, you know if that's your intention and you're not praying and you're not focusing on God and you're not tithing, you're not giving back—like again, I'm very big on philanthropy, and I really believe in community participation and giving back to your community in a huge way. And I think all of us as Catholics have a duty to make money. To be not only financially independent and not relying on the state, for example, but also to give back abundantly and I think because we've been created by God and if God is taking care of the birds in the sky, like, you know, He's gonna give us what we need. He's gonna give us what we need because we need that to survive, but He doesn't want to just give us things to survive. He wants us to thrive.
And so if you're struggling with like, "If I'm going to have a lot of things, my intentions might be placed in the wrong place," well, that's up to you. It has to be your action and your decision to focus on things that are not of God. So I think there's a way to have things and be detached. I know I have almost all my mentors, at this point, are mostly Catholic and all of them are very successful CEOs have beautiful things. But again, it's where your intention is. If your intention is on making money for the sake of money, that's where the bad stuff comes in and that's not of God.
But if people are saying like—first of all, you shouldn't be worrying what people are saying because God has created you, and He has an opinion of you. And I shared this on Mission to Launch, on the Instagram. There's a reel that's like, why are you focusing on other people's opinions when God has already formed you and like, knows you? But I know that it's very hard to be there's a lot of comparison in the world and I definitely struggle with like seeing other entrepreneurs who are around my age and have way more than me. I'm like, "Man, I've done nothing with my life!" There's always that struggle. But again, it's like you, can serve God wherever you are, which includes the professional world. It's harder to serve God in the professional world, not because it's harder, but it's harder to be a Catholic in the professional world because there's so much anti-Catholic sentiment in general. So I think it's easy to serve God but it's harder to be more public about it, if that makes sense.
So for those of you who are struggling, either leaving ministry, but if you're feeling called to leave ministry, you need to leave. Like, you're doing harm to the people and the souls that you are in charge of now and somebody else should be there. But, you can always serve God and it's again, where your intention is. Jesus had wealthy friends, like Nicodemus who gave Him his tomb. When He was sitting at like those long tables and He was talking about places of honour? Those people who were wealthy people, people who had long tables were wealthy people! So He had, you know, wealthy friends! It's not a bad thing to have money. It's just, where are you placing your intention? If your intention is on accumulating wealth because you want to be the McDaddy gangster of all the things, then, you know, that's the bad thing! But if you're focusing on giving back, having things because you can enjoy them and that brings you closer to God—which I think experiencing beauty through luxurious things is a very important thing to do. And I think more of us should do it. That's the important thing.
And there's always going to be criticism from people and like parents not having enough or you have too much. Again, like how are you serving God and how are you getting to heaven? And if those things are bringing you closer to heaven, including working in the secular environment, you need to have discipline, you need to kind of clarify like if this thing is bringing you to God. But I also wouldn't categorize something just because it's a 'thing' that it draws you away from God. Like we all have beds, right? Are beds a bad thing? No! We need to sleep in them [laughs] So, you know, people can have very nice beds! But like if it's harming you, like, you know doing something bad, then it's a bad thing. But I think again, we should live in a good environment that enabled us to thrive. And don't be worried about what other people are thinking which is a very big mindset thing that you have to work on and it's still something that I have to work on. So it's definitely a process. But Mission to Launch is here for you as a Catholic professional, wherever you're coming from, we're here to help you transcend out of that mindset and really thrive in the world.
37:13 RACHEL: Wow, thank you! As you're sharing all that and you know, I have to reiterate all of the really good things that you just said there. But just something that came to mind, as you're sharing all this, and I think throughout this conversation that we've been having, is this verse in scripture—and I can't remember where it is. I think it's the gospels. But you know, to whom much is given, much more is expected of you. So really, like you're saying, the Lord doesn't just want us to just scrape by. He really wants us to really live our full lives and really achieving the things and the desires that He's placed on our hearts. He will bless us with whatever resources, whatever time, whatever people it is who can help us to achieve those things. And we're called to take action, we're called to those moves and make those changes, but I love how you're pointing back to the flip side as well where it's like, you know, you can achieve all of these things and that's wonderful and it, to some extent, is expected, right? Like you know, we think of the talents and how at the end of our lives, like the Lord will want to see what we've been able to do with the gifts that He's given us.
But then from there, okay, like you know, we've accumulated the wealth or the house or whatever it might be. We've built up these great businesses or projects. But then how are we going back like how are we serving other people out of that? And it's such an important thing to really be mindfully aware of. Yeah.
38:37 ELENA: I think a lot of people have really bad opinions of people who have money. And it's actually during times of like the pandemic or giving, especially the United States, is down 40% nationwide. That people who have the most amount of money—so people who are philanthropists—end up increasing their giving to kind of make up for that gap. So I think as Catholics, the five talent stewards, I think we are those five talent stewards because we've been given the fullness of the faith. And then people who might have less talents are maybe Protestants or who are not Catholic. So since we've been given so much, don't question if you've been given something. We've been given everything. We have the Eucharist, we have confession, we have everything! So it's a question of how are you going to put that into action? And like, we have a duty to put that into action. So don't question like, "Oh, you know, making money is not for me. You know, having these nice things is not for me." These things are for you because God has given you everything and that is so important. People who are really wealthy are not bad people. There are definitely some who are and who do bad things, and you can very clearly identify them. But the people who are Catholic or Christian, Jewish, you know, who have a lot of money who are good and who are, they end up being philanthropists? They give millions back every year, especially during like recessions. They end up increasing their giving by over 20-50%. So again, we're five talent stewards, don't question that. We have a duty to make a lot of money so we can give back abundantly.
40:01 RACHEL: Thank you. And that's such a great way of looking at that parable. I've never thought of it that way, so thank you for, you know, just like illuminating that. Because like you said, He really has given us everything. If we are Catholic and we claim to be, and we really recognize like the fullness of the faith and this gift that He's given to us, yeah you're right. We have absolutely everything that we need. So, you know, I very much appreciate that and of course, like Elena, everything that you've shared today.
So maybe, just as we close, when you think of your personal feminine genius and how you've seen that flourish through the different areas that you've worked and this journey that you've taken, how have you seen that feminine genius grow in your life?
40:42 ELENA: Yeah, I would say that being a woman in the workplace, especially as a Catholic, can be difficult in a sense that unfortunately, being in the church, there's a lot of women who don't see as having that equal part in general. And so I think my part has really been like, you know, as a professional working woman it's a good thing to have that desire to work, and it's not a bad thing. And I think there's a lot of sentiment around women should be in the home, or like you know, be in the religious space and not working? And so, I really wanted to blaze a trail for other women. Like, if you've been in ministry especially, you have dreams and skills that are meant to be fulfilled in the workplace and those things are good things, because again, if the desire is there and it's a good desire, it's really meant to be fulfilled.
I don't think there's really any of that being talked about in this space. There's a lot of talk about God's will, but one of our instructors, Elizabeth Santorum Marcolini, she was talking about God's will being in the present tense, which was so illuminating, because God's will has always been like, "Oh, you pray to do God's will", like in the future. And so, talking about God's will is living in the present moment, and where you are in the present moment is God's will for you. So if you're in the working situation, this is God's will for you now, so how are you living that out to the fullest of your possibility? 'Cause potential is very limiting. Potential has a limit, so like, where is our possibility? Where is that? So I want to blaze that trail for other Catholic women coming from ministry or studied theology. You know, being in the professional world is important, we just need to be trained [on] how to be in that space, which is where Mission to Launch comes in.
But then, in terms of my PR main business, which is not Catholic at all, I would say trying to be like a chief problem solver and not just limiting the scope of my work to like what it says, basically. You know, within reason. And trying to empathize with people where they're coming from and being pastoral—again, which is something that I learned in ministry. Not being the rescuer of people, because we're not meant to be rescuers. We're meant to equip people and help people to you know, kind of be their own person and asking people like, if I've worked for a client and see somebody struggling in their company, even though it might be unpopular to say, "Hey, are you really thriving in this role that you're in?" And telling the CEO, like, "I don't think this person is thriving. I don't think you should fire them, but they should be in a position where they can thrive, because they're ultimately doing damage to your company if they're not thriving." So I guess calling people out where it might be uncomfortable is something that I've really tried to take into account. And then, as I've grown more in liking the Visitation, like you know, Mary kicked down doors and crushed serpent's heads! So I can very much do that in the professional world, so to speak.
43:23 RACHEL: Amen! You've really tapped into the heart and soul of this project for me. But what I hope for other women as well is just, you know, there is no one right way. The way, so to speak, is what God has called you to. And I would add what you just said there, "in the present moment." So, you're more than capable of being an exceptional woman of God wherever you are. So Elena, I just wanna thank you again for your time today. I know you have a very busy schedule so I'm so appreciative of you making time to have this chat and just for your insights and your wisdom. As we close, are you able to lead us in a closing prayer?
44:01 ELENA: Yes, I'd love to! I'd love to do the Hail Mary, just because it's December 8 and that's... what other prayer is better?
44:07 RACHEL: Absolutely!
44:08 ELENA: In honour of Our Lady, on her feast day December 8th: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. And I ask St. Therese to pray for all of us, especially all of those who are struggling with a job, or whichever patron saint you have who helps you with your job, that you may thrive in your position, and remember. We're not meant to survive, but to thrive, and for Our Lady to bless all of our work. Amen.
44:43 RACHEL: Amen! Elena, thank you so much!
44:45 ELENA: Thank you so much for having me!
44:54 RACHEL: My thanks again to Elena Nuñez Murdock for taking the time to join me on the podcast today! As mentioned, Elena is the founder of Mission to Launch. You can learn more about them and the services they offer by checking out their website, mission2launch.com. That's mission, with the number 2, launch dot com. And be sure to also follow them on Instagram, @mission2launch. I've links to these in the episode description below.
You can stay up to date with The Feminine Genius Podcast by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we're @femgeniuspod, and you can listen to this podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and many other platforms. All this information can be found on our website, femininegeniuspodcast.com.
We'll talk to you soon, and God bless always!