Founder, Mac & Cheese Productions℠
When Jessica met Saya Hillman years ago, she had no idea she would be meeting someone who would facilitate so many opportunities for personal growth. After being fired in 2004, Saya founded Mac & Cheese Productions℠ and has been self-employed since. She took all of the things that frustrated her (networking and "getting out there") and created experiences for people to face their fears, build community, participate and grow. Fear Experiment℠ comes to mind: it's an opportunity for strangers to come together, learn an art form (i.e., dance, improv, storytelling) over ten weeks and then perform in front of hundreds. This adult recital allowed Jessica to live out a secret dream of being a Broadway performer. Rehearsing week after week with others who were equally scared and excited to step out of their comfort zone was a life-changing experience.
Saya is known for helping people conquer their fears or try something new in safe spaces. Her Life of Yes℠ philosophy believes that everyone has a choice in how their lives are designed (even when it feels like they don't). She's seen the power of what can happen when you put yourself first and are vulnerable and transparent in a way that lifts other people. By being her authentic self, she encourages others to value themselves and use their gifts to put good into the world.
Saya’s one goal is to help her community of Cheese-Its create and lead fulfilled lives. She geeks out about so many amazing things, it’s hard to pick just a couple of shared fascinations — but we never tire of hearing her perspective on cleaning, improv, and embracing what makes you happy.
🤓 I geek out about…
- Cleaning — doing the actual act, talking best practices and supplies, helping others clean better, Before & After photos
- Travel hacking
- Airport lounges, especially if I can hack my way into them
- Swanky hotels, both staying in and working from them, especially if I can hack my way into them. I do my best work in a hotel lobby — the background noise, the seating variety, the people watching, the fruit-infused water, the pervasive “May I be of service” wafts.
- Well performed improv (I’ve watched the Netflix show Middleditch & Schwartz more times than I can count and laugh as hard the last time as I did the first time)
- Sayatime — getting to do what I want when I want (which is why I’m self employed, petless, and kidless)
- People pushing themselves to do the thing they know they can’t do, doing it, and getting addicted to that rush and then continuing to push, freak out, succeed. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
- Being a thoughtful host who makes everyone feel welcome and comfortable due to attention to detail, organization, and the ability to chat with anyone
- My husband — he’s my bestest friend and I’m so grateful for him
🎒 I collect…
Mixtile photos of trips and foster puppies that my husband and I have turned into wall collages (Mixtiles are sticky photo tiles). It’s one of the most commented upon features of our home.
Nice things people say to me/about me — a “bag of goodness” which sometimes is a literal bag but more often an Evernote note. I peek at it when I’m having a bad day or when I need reminding of why I do what I do.
💬 My friends ask my advice about…
- Running a business, specifically how to make money doing what you love; multiple income streams especially of the disparate variety; how to do sales, networking, and self promotion when you loathe sales, networking, and self-promotion; systems
- Creating community
- Service provider recommendations
- Figuring out what you want in life and who you are
🧰 How my weird obsessions show up in my work…
I don’t know what weird obsessions I have! Maybe this is better asked of my husband, peers, or clients. 😂
I’m obsessed with simply being happy and that shows up in my work in that I do whatever makes me happy. Regardless of whether it fits in a box, makes sense to others, on paper has nothing to do with my other income streams. I see so many people feel they have to choose between being a dog-walker and a coder and a baker, or at least keep them separate (“What will my coder clients think if they know I also walk dogs and bake cakes?!?”). I’m all about ease, efficiency, and being a whole person — one website/one company that houses all of me, not three websites/three companies that house part of me.
I’m also a huge proponent of self-sufficiency and boundaries and have set up my work to reflect that. One of the ways this manifests is training clients and collaborators to head to the gaggle of resources I’ve made available before/instead of reaching out to me.
🌱 What form(s) of growth is/are most important for your company?
Do the seeds I plant grow without my needing to water them? I adore providing the initial space for people to connect with others, opportunities, and themselves and then watching them spread their proverbial wings with their newfound confidence, direction, and community, flying off on their own with occasional returns to the nest for updates and refuelling. Nothing makes me squeeeee more than when I see people who met through me cohabitating, dating, traveling together, collaborating, hiring each other, promoting each other, grabbing coffee, being friendsssssss.
I relish being able to reuse and repurpose material of mine, generating additional income streams by simple tweaks of content. For example, turning blog posts into book chapters, classes for individuals into corporate sessions, and curriculum into video tutorials and ebooks. I just expanded from one city to twelve cities with a Chapter Leader at the helm in each city with my hope being that I’ll turn my sixteen years of experience and knowledge into Mac & Cheese Productions℠ world domination but with the twist that each Chapter Leader will bring to the table their version of Life of Yes℠.
Organic growth is my fave, both in the referrals sense and in the blow with the wind sense. I’m 100% word of mouth and have been since Day 1, spending $0 on marketing or advertising; I exist because people share me and because I’m good at finding the people who’ll share me. I love growing branches and lopping off branches of my tree depending on where I am in life, what I value, what I prioritize, what brings me joy, the people in my orbit, what knowledge I have.
💭 I wish more companies would…
…recognize that people don’t need to be in an office 9-5 M-F to be productive employees or feel a part of a community.
❓ A question I love:
- If you could move anywhere, where and why?
- What’s your favorite cleaning hack/tip?
- If you could build your dream house, what would it include?
- What’s a recommendation you’d give someone who’s looking to meet others? A class, organization, activity, group, book, podcast, etc.
You can find Saya on Instagram; be sure to check out her Stories.