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Meghan Braley: “Reach further”

If your next career role doesn’t make you nervous, then you are not reaching far enough. I received this advice while at Thomson Reuters. It taught me that every move should be a stretch. That’s really how you grow. Anytime I am looking for a new role within my existing organization or an outside organization, […]

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If your next career role doesn’t make you nervous, then you are not reaching far enough. I received this advice while at Thomson Reuters. It taught me that every move should be a stretch. That’s really how you grow. Anytime I am looking for a new role within my existing organization or an outside organization, I am able to apply this line of thinking when evaluating whether a new opportunity is a fit for me. I identify opportunities that have a good mix of objectives that I could meet without thinking twice, those that are a little out of my comfort zone, and those that absolutely terrify me. Time passes and those that used to terrify me become the ones that I can do with my eyes closed.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Meghan Braley.

Meghan Braley, founder of ScootRoute, is a product management executive currently leading the launch of the ScootRoute APP and is a product management consultant. She has extensive consulting and “hands-on” experience in launching new systems integration and technology initiatives. Meghan was previously a Senior Director of Product Management at Broadridge Financial Services overseeing their entire institutional governance product suite.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I have always been in the product management/product development space. Outside of being a developer, I have assumed all other product development roles: QA, Business Analyst, Project Manager/Scrum Master, Product Manager. To be honest, I fell into the career path with my first job out of college at Accenture. I have always loved launching new products that have been built from scratch. There is something so satisfying about finding a need in the market and helping to find a solution.

While I am grateful for all of the experiences that large companies have afforded me, I always dreamt of starting my own company and developing a product that was not only important to the community but also one that matched with my passion/hobbies. I’ve always been passionate about micromobility and have been a Vespa rider for more than 10 years. When coming up with the idea for my app, ScootRoute, it was founded out of my own frustration of having to commute with endless traffic, sporadic bike lanes and confusing signals. After talking with others in this space, I found so many people were having this same issues. This is when I decided to fully commit to the launch of ScootRoute and I left my senior-level position at a fintech company to partner with a local development shop that focused on startups to create the app.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I am changing the way people think about tried and true methods of transportation (cars, buses, trains) and opening up the conversation for new micro-mobility devices like ebikes, escooters, and motor scooters. There are so many different modes of transportation that people can use, both in urban and suburban areas, but there is still an uncertainty regarding the newest forms of micro-mobility: Is it safe? Is it hard to learn how to use? Where can I use it? My goal is to make using micro-mobility devices second nature to those who are either already using them or a little hesitant to hop on that scoot.

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?

It’s not necessarily a funny incident, but it’s something that I often think back on and laugh about. In my first job after college, I thought all of my peers and managers expected me to be perfect and know how to do everything in my role. What makes me laugh, is that I had no self-awareness to realize that everyone KNEW that I had NO IDEA what I was doing and that their realistic expectation of me was so different than the expectation I had in my head. Their expectation was that I was smart and if there is something I didn’t know how to do, I’d try and figure it out and if I got stuck, I’d have the ability to raise my hand and tell someone I needed help or guidance. That’s an important lesson that I have taken with me and one that any person starting out his/her career should know. No one is perfect. No one knows how to execute a new role/career perfectly. Do your best and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I can absolutely ask the right questions, ask for help, and figure it out!” By being able to do that, I get to my goal much more efficiently, with less stress, and am able bring true experts into the conversation where I need it.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best female executives who have not only inspired me to chart my own career, but also set examples for how I want to lead and what makes a good leader. During my time at NASDAQ and Broadridge, I worked with two phenomenal women, Corey Fiedler and Kathleen Keenan.

Corey taught me the importance of “ringing the bell”. When I say that I’m shy, people don’t believe me. But I am! Anytime we launched a new product, product feature, or signed a new client, I was hesitant to make a big deal about it. Corey insisted that I send out the internal email with the announcement. She taught me that 1) it’s not bragging, 2) it’s important that people know about the changes, and 3) it keeps your name in the conversation. Along these lines, Corey is also my hype woman. She’d take my announcements and send them to her direct manager and above, always giving credit to me or whoever’s announcement it was. Through working with Corey, I realize how important it is to give credit where credit is due, whether if it’s to someone on your team, a direct report, or even to yourself.

Kathleen taught me that it’s okay if your next career advancement is outside your current organization and the importance of informational interviewing. I worked with Kathleen for a number of years and reported directly to her for about half of them. It wasn’t unusual for her to leave for a few hours to go on an informational interview, meet with a client about a role that he/she had in his/her organization, or even send me new opportunities even though it would mean me leaving her team. She didn’t attend these interviews because she was looking for a new job, but because she always wanted to be aware of what was happening in the market. It’s kind of strange to think about your manager telling you to interview for something that could potentially leave her with a gap in her team, but it’s also really important for your managers to be not just a team manager, but a people/growth manager as well. How good of a manager are you if the people under you remain stagnant, never growing in their career?

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

The only time disrupting isn’t good is if something is being disrupted for disruption’s sake. I think there are very few systems or structures that couldn’t use a little disruption, but there is an art to disruption and if executed poorly it can wreak havoc. Think about Napster and Spotify. Awesome idea to change the way that consumers listen to music, but a terrible (and illegal) execution from Napster in that artists were not receiving the royalties that were due. Enter Spotify, great disruptor, win-win situation for both consumers and artists.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

If your next career role doesn’t make you nervous, then you are not reaching far enough. I received this advice while at Thomson Reuters. It taught me that every move should be a stretch. That’s really how you grow. Anytime I am looking for a new role within my existing organization or an outside organization, I am able to apply this line of thinking when evaluating whether a new opportunity is a fit for me. I identify opportunities that have a good mix of objectives that I could meet without thinking twice, those that are a little out of my comfort zone, and those that absolutely terrify me. Time passes and those that used to terrify me become the ones that I can do with my eyes closed.

No matter where or who you work for, you are always in business for yourself. My mother would say this to me and my sisters growing up and continues to remind us. It is similar to the term “building your brand”. Even though you may be in a certain role at a specific company, that role does not define you. What defines you is how you execute that role’s objectives, how you work with your colleagues, whether you can be depended on, whether you complete your objective with integrity. It didn’t matter, if I was babysitting, teaching swim lessons, or leading a team. Give the job your best effort and you will always be a valued member of the team, regardless of the content.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Not everyone likes to have micro-mobility devices in their neighborhoods. There has been an increase in negative feedback regarding shared micro-mobility. The biggest complaint being that the scooters litter the streets and sidewalks. And to be fair, I don’t disagree. I’d love to work with local governments and shared scooter companies to better accommodate these devices. Every city needs more bike lanes, more regulations and clearer regulations on where these types of devices can be ridden, as well as the best place for them to be parked or stored. By opening up the conversation, there is a huge opportunity for neighborhoods to embrace micro-mobility without having to trip over them when walking on the sidewalk.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women disruptors are challenged to overcome a certain stereotype of what the typical female disruptor acts like. Before a personal conversation is even had with someone, if she is described as a female disruptor she’s put into a certain personality box. And she may fit in that box and she may not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the attributes of the stereotype, but if that’s not you, you are constantly trying to change the perception that people have of you as a communicator, team player, and leader to who you are actually are and not the stereotype.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

NPR — Podcast How I Built This With Guy Raz

How I Built This is an overall inspiring podcast in that time and time again, Guy Raz, talks with entrepreneurs who had a pain point in his/her daily life, had an idea to fix it, and grew it into multi-million dollar businesses. It showcases the truth behind the proverb “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”. All of the stories I have listened to have inspired me to take my personal pain point of not being able to figure out how to get me and my Vespa to my family’s house 10 miles outside the city. Listening to all of the success stories and the origin of the idea, made me think about my problem, what could fix it, and how do I get something to the market that will help others. And from that line of thinking, ScootRoute was born.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂

Be Kind. Be kind not only to others but also to yourself. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. Be your own hype woman, be the hype woman for your friends and family, be the hype woman for your colleagues.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it” — Gary V.

Everyone has their own insecurities. And I, like everyone else, have my fair share. When I find myself going down the path of comparing myself to others and feeling like I don’t measure up, I remind myself that what works for others and what works for me, does not always match up and never really does. We may have similar goals, but I have to approach things in a way that makes sense to me or highlight what’s important to me. There are millions of ideas, opportunities, and directions out there. You need to do what works for you, don’t compare, and don’t look back.

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram — @scoot_route

Twitter — @scootroute

Facebook — @scootrouteofficial

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

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