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An Interview with Melissa Van Oss, author of Exploring the Art of Seduction

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As an award-winning, three-time bestselling author and distinguished mindset expert, Melissa Van Oss empowers students, educators, and business leaders to succeed in today’s unpredictable and diverse world.

Known for her captivating presence, Melissa is sought-after speaker whose inspirational and motivational presentations resonate across the country. Her unique approach has been hailed as “Fun, energetic, engaging with a different perspective—the part of business no one is talking about.” Melissa’s dynamic speaking style not only captivates audiences but also leaves them with a fresh perspective on personal growth.

As an accomplished author, Melissa has authored three bestsellers, solidifying her position as a literary force in the industry. Her influence is so profound that she has been recognized as one of the “Top Businesswomen Leaders to Watch in 2023.” This prestigious acknowledgment underscores Melissa’s commitment to making a lasting impact on the business world.

Recently honored with the NAMCA Storyteller of the Year award, Melissa stands out for her storytelling prowess—a skill that sets her apart in the competitive landscape of thought leaders. In addition, she has been bestowed with the prestigious “The Author’s Zone” (TAZ) award for non-fiction self-help, further cementing her status as a luminary in the genre.

Melissa’s Trust the Process Book Marketing Program stands as a testament to her dedication and success. The program has achieved remarkable milestones, with 11 consecutive titles reaching #1 BESTSELLER and #1 NEW release status in MULTIPLE categories over the last 22 months. This exceptional track record showcases Melissa’s ability to not only craft compelling narratives but also strategically market and position books for unprecedented success.

With an undeniable impact on the industry, Melissa continues to push boundaries and redefine what is possible in the realms of mindset and leadership. Her journey is characterized by a commitment to excellence, innovation, and a genuine desire to empower others. Melissa’s story is one of resilience, success, and a relentless pursuit of making a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and organizations alike.

For those seeking inspiration, guidance, and a fresh perspective on leadership, Melissa’s journey and body of work stand as a beacon of motivation—an invitation to embrace growth, trust the process, and reach new heights in both personal and professional arenas.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have held a few positions that many people may not realize now. I’ve been an executive C-Suite recruiter for Fortune 500 clients as well as an event planner for an up-scale restaurant in lounge. But when I mention to people that I was a professional haberdasher, that usually strikes up a lively conversation.

A professional haberdasher is a tailor and wardrobe consultant for busy executives and business professionals who do not like or have the time to shop. I worked for The Tom James Clothing Company as their very first intern and then became a full-time employee right after I graduated from Kent State University with a major in fashion merchandising and marketing. I obtained my Bachelor of Science degree, was a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society and graduated with honors.

In my work as a professional haberdasher, I would visit my clients at their offices or homes in order to consult with them on their wardrobing needs. Based on the type of job they had and their day-to-day activities, I would recommend what items they needed in their closet in order to have a good rotation, which included classic stables built into their wardrobe. In my two Atlas bags, I carried with me more clothing, shoes, and accessory options than most high-end luxury retailers have on hand. I sold Ferragamo and Allen Edmond shoes. We had the highest-quality fabrics. Tom James Clothing also owned Oxxford suits, which the late Alex Trebek wore on Jeopardy, as well as many presidents. When I worked with my clients, they knew they were getting quality, service, and custom designs that no one else would be wearing.

On the occasion I have to move, I often laugh to myself when I ask friends or need to hire movers because I always have to tell them, “I don’t have a lot of stuff, i.e., heavy furniture or delicate collectibles, but I do have lots of books and clothes.” That statement can make my well-intentioned friends bail out on helping me move, which I understand. So if we ever meet, I love talking about fashion and have fond memories of my days working as a professional haberdasher.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Ahh, the book title. I am not exactly sure how many sheets of paper went into ‘file thirteen’…aka the garbage can before I finally decided on the title, but it was a lot.

The thing about your book title or anything related to it is that everyone, and I mean everyone, has an opinion on the matter. And most of the people giving their opinions or unsolicited ‘help’ have never written or published a book, yet they are potential consumers. So it can be a struggle to come up with the final title. I learned my lesson after the launch of my first bestselling book: ask the experts or those in the field for their advice, or better yet, pay a professional to help. I had a book coach that I was able to brainstorm with, and after I narrowed it down to my final three, I shared them with my coaches’ group for their final votes on the title.

I’ve had a split with my books; for half of them, the title came first, and for others, the book manuscript came first and the title last. I think each book project is different, but deciding on the book title is one of the most important components in order to capture your reader’s attention, so care must be taken to pick one that you love and feel excited to show others.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

My hope is that readers will begin to look at the world with a fresh perspective and the insight to know that their mindset and confidence create the world they live in. Becoming a more confident and memorable person will take you far in life, whether you are a student in need of a letter of recommendation, a business professional, or an entrepreneur. With the ability to get your call picked up or a reply to your email, you are one step closer to getting an internship, closing a deal, or getting a promotion.

We live in a world where people are viewed as ‘capital’, so why not understand the power of ‘social seduction’ in order to leverage yourself and your talents in the best possible light? “Social seduction” refers to the ability to communicate effectively and persuade others in order to get a win-win outcome for all parties involved. And when you think about it, all day, every day, you are either trying to persuade others of your ideas, abilities, and talents or to get your significant other to put the bowl in the dishwasher, on TV, or on social media ads—you name it. We are inundated hundreds, if not thousands, of times per day with people, products, or things trying to persuade (‘socially seduce’) us into their causes or resulting in purchases of their products.

Savvy consumers, business professionals, and students understand and apply the principles in my book. When we understand “social seduction” and how to leverage it to our advantage, suddenly the world begins to take on a new color and shape. Plus, it’s fun to master the art of “social seduction.”

If you’ve ever watched or heard of the TV show Survivor, you will see ‘social seduction’ played out from week to week. How are some of the players described as “he’s playing a social game,” which means that player knows how to communicate effectively and leverage social relationships to their benefit in order to go further in the game. ‘Social’ players, when done the right way, are not seen as a threat because they are viewed more as a trusted ally or friend in the game. The same is true in life.

When you utilize and practice the techniques described in Exploring the Art of Seduction, you become a strategic player in the game of life, using your mindset and confidence as a base from which to build. Exploration is fun, exciting, and comes with an adventurous mindset. Let that be your guide as you begin the process of looking at the world from a new perspective and see that indeed all things are possible for you.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I think the most rewarding and meaningful part of publishing my book was that I proved to myself that I could do it. I put myself out there, and people responded positively to it. Part of the fear of trying something new and unknown is that you don’t know how people will respond to it, view you, or whether they will like it or not, so it can be nerve-racking, to say the least.

For me, I had people that I had lost touch with over time, but when I reached out to tell them what I was doing, they could not have been more supportive. I had old high school friends that I hadn’t seen in years jump on the bandwagon and share the book with others. It really warmed my heart to know that connections made so long ago, whether they were years ago or more recently, were all supportive of my efforts and cheered me on.

Hearing how the book has helped readers has also been extremely rewarding. Winning “The Authors’ Zone” (TAZ) finalist award in the non-fiction, self-help category also means a lot because they are a prestigious organization of passionate book readers and literacy advocates. As more readers are exposed to my book, I get excited because I know the impact the principles (when applied) will have on their daily lives to change them for the better.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

Recently, I went to the NAMCA conference in lovely Peachtree City, Georgia, and I had the honor of sharing a ‘brief chapter’ of my life story with the audience. Much to my delight and surprise, the story resonated with many people. Many people approached me after my presentation to say they were “moved; they’ve had times when life felt like it was burning down around them, or that they were inspired to look at the obstacles in life in a new way as a powerful learning lesson.” And if hearing all that positive feedback wasn’t awesome enough, I was presented with the Storyteller of the Year award by the group hosting the conference. (It seems like the story did strike a chord.) Hearing this positive feedback gave me the ‘push’ I needed to share the whole story and what I learned as a result.

Now I am working on my fourth book based on my award-winning presentation. This book begins in the 1980s, when I was a young entrepreneur with my very first business, a paper route. That’s right, I was the neighborhood ‘paperboy’ and rode my Huffy bike complete with the banana seat to toss the papers every day after school.

One afternoon, I jumped on my ride, put the ca-single of “Hey, Mickey” into my Walkman, and took off on my route. As I approached my best friend’s house, whose mom happened to be a volunteer firefighter, I could see her running out the door with all her gear on. I called out to her, “Good luck with your call. I hope everything is okay,” as she jumped into her car and took off down the street to the firehouse.

I continued my route, which consisted of about 5-6 more houses. When I got to the stop sign at my street, I turned my head to the left and could see lights, an ambulance, the police, and the firefighters all at MY HOUSE.

MY house was on FIRE!!

My best friend’s mom was rushing to MY HOUSE because I was ‘the call.’

We lost everything that day except for the clothes on our backs. Needless to say, that is a traumatic event, and it takes a lot of time to rebuild. I was able to successfully cope, adapt, and survive not one but two house fires growing up, and now I offer readers fresh insights on how to turn traumatic events and the hard knocks of life into the fuel you need to unleash your inner F.L.A.M.E. for success.

The process allows you to fuel your inner F.L.A.M.E. in order to unlock your unlimited potential. “F” stands for freedom. We have the ability to look at the obstacles in life as a newfound “freedom” to begin again or rebuild from scratch. Having a ‘clean slate’ is liberating, even when first viewed with anxiety. “L” stands for leverage. We can leverage our obstacles by viewing them as life lessons. Each life lesson that presents itself in our lives is our opportunity to extract some wisdom from it in order to grow. “A” is the development of an adventurous mindset. When we shift our perspective and begin to look at the life lessons we see in our lives as one big adventure, it makes life seem less stressful, anxiety-ridden, and out of control.

Adventures are fun even if they inherently come with ‘risks’ of the unknown. The reward and thrill of the hunt in an adventure far outweigh the risks associated. “M” is for metamorphosis. Every life lesson or obstacle, whether large or small, has the potential to change us on a deep level. When we go through a metamorphosis phase in life, we go inward, go quiet, reflect, and come out with an even more beautiful, more evolved soul. Rebirth happens many times throughout our lives, if we identify it and allow it to happen. This brings us to the “E,” which stands for “evolution.” Each day, we are evolving, for better or worse. Evolution is a never-ending process. Every day, you have a fresh twenty-four hours to evolve and become a better version of yourself than the day before. Each positive choice sets your future self up for greater resilience, confidence, and success.

When you fuel your inner F.L.A.M.E., you have the formula available in order to overcome any adversity that comes your way. The F.L.A.M.E. formula allows you to unlock your unlimited potential because you will no longer be held back by emotional baggage, self-sabotaging beliefs, and the unhealed wounds that keep you chained in the past, unable to see a bright future. With F.L.A.M.E., a bright future is not only possible; it’s within anyone’s grasp that follows the principles. This book will be published by StarTracker Publishing Company and is my second book with them. For my marketing campaign, I’ll be using the Trust the Process Book Marketing Program, which helps authors create a successful launch campaign. Their campaigns have resulted in 11 consecutive #1 bestsellers, a #1 new release in multiple categories, and four award-winning titles. I am excited to be working on the final manuscript now, with it launching sometime in 2024.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.