Meg shares her views on empowering women in the workplace and the value of a good mentor.
A season of change is upon us. As many are preparing to walk across the stage to bridge the gap between academia and real life, I am reminded of words my mom shared with me in my graduation note that said, “The final steps of a journey create an arrival.”
These words resonate even today. Recently, I was fortunate to be chosen to represent Fairfield Inn & Suites in a campaign called Every Day Connect. The program is dedicated to showcasing relationships with mentors of who have had a life-long impact from one’s college years and beyond. Not surprisingly to most, I asked my university swim coach Tim Wise to meet me in New York for these interviews.
Tim and I spent a full day together, which was the biggest treat of the trip. Although it’s been years since my college swimming days, it was easy to reconnect and reminisce about the intensity of the sport; some of the biggest physical and emotional challenges I have ever had to face. Speaking with Tim brought back fond memories. My favorite quote from Virgil’s Aeneid is: “Endure the hardships of your present state / Live, and remember as there will be better fate.”
As the idea of women in the workplace and gender inequality takes center stage in the media, the trials and tribulations of my developing years in college stick in the back of my mind. Now, I don’t mean to whine here, but being a woman in any industry in the post-grad world is not easy. In fact, I feel it’s safe to say that many young women (and men) in this day and age are still figuring out what they want -- how to achieve their goals or break from what may be perceived as “normal.” There are two philosophies that have helped empower me in these often confusing and terrifying times:
1. Survival & Risk: I thank God every day that I was brought up in a modest home with loving and supportive parents who told me I could do whatever I wanted but never handed me a check. NOT having money after college and having debt meant survival. I learned, and am still learning, that having financial responsibility makes you learn a lot, fast. It used to be just me – now it is 150 employees. I didn’t have the burden of a trust fund – I had the comfort of being broke for so long that I was (and still am) resourceful and hungry.
2. Swimming & Friendship: The thing I’ve known my whole life is who I am when I’m in the water. Having an outlet and a network of swimmers through The Olympic Club gave me support and guidance at the most trying times – from bad breakups to a near-fatal car accident. I was saved by swimming and swimmers throughout my 20s. I have also learned that it’s ok to be dependent on others at certain times in your life. As an overly-independent 22-year-old, I thought, “hey, you die alone, you should make it alone.” Quickly after college, I learned that we are actually all together in this life, so let’s help each other - in business and in our personal lives. Those support lessons have translated well into Golden Road’s culture of supportive women in our workplace. I feel the positive energy every day guided by the excitement of our business developing alongside our friendships for people of any gender.
As graduation commences, I just want to say to these young ladies looking for their place… This shit is hard so hold on tight, don’t let go, and carry on! You WILL get through it and be better off on the other side. It is interesting to reflect on our journey and how fortunate I am to have landed in LA with Tony’s support and a network of amazingly talented folks who help me and Golden Road every day. I am sure life doesn’t get any easier or slow-down. But those post-grad years of finding your passion and your voice, are tough survival years – and I strongly believe – will help overcome future challenges.