Despite the stress that COVID-19 has placed on us all, I think it has created a collective slow down and reminded us to take a breath and a step back to appreciate what we have.
This time has allowed us to reevaluate our priorities in life and focus on health and what is most important in the grand scheme of things.
So many people have had to pivot to a work-from-home routine while the kids are there, too. It’s created a new wave of acceptance of the work/family balance and I hope people can stay this accepting even after we’ve moved past this pandemic.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Meghan Clem, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Become Intertwined, Intertwined Events, and RAD Camp, a nonprofit for adults and children with developmental disabilities.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
In high school, I met Katie Webb, my now business partner and Co-Founder of RAD Camp, when volunteering for a local camp serving those with special needs. She and I became fast friends through our passion in helping children and adults with disabilities.
After our initial meeting, we remained close — attending local SoCal universities and even majoring in the same focus of events, hospitality, and public relations. After realizing time and time again that we were a great team, we started our joint businesses in 2009 — one part social media agency, Become Intertwined, and one-part full-service event planning company, Intertwined Events. With our nose to the grindstone for the next few years, we emerged stronger than ever in 2014. At that time — when our businesses really started to flourish — Katie and I began to think of our next venture. We knew there was a real community need for a local overnight recreational service for people with special needs like the one that brought us together and with our in-depth knowledge of planning, RAD Camp (Rising Above Disabilities) was born. Since then, we always say that Intertwined pays the bills and Rad Camp pays our hearts. It’s a passion project for us and that is why it has continued to grow and become such a successful organization for kids and adults with developmental disabilities for the past six years.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
I’d have to say it was when we were surprised and awarded with a Disney grant for 60,000 dollars. We were unknowingly submitted through a secret nomination for the Disneyland Resort’s Million Dollar Dazzle campaign for Disney’s 60th-anniversary celebration and RAD was one of the few nonprofits that were chosen as a recipient.
During a typical lunchtime dance party at RAD Camp in 2016, we were completely surprised by a Disney entourage with balloons, a huge check, and the presentation of the grant. Everyone cried, laughed, and were totally over the moon. It felt so validating to us. All of those late nights, risks, and the hundreds of hours of hard work had surmounted to a brand like Disney recognizing us. It’s a moment I’ll never forget!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Like so many others with the onset of the COVID-19, we’ve had to learn to adapt like never before — but where there’s a will there’s a way! Knowing that RAD would become more important than ever during a time like this, Katie and I put our heads together and created RAD Remote — RAD’s first-ever fully remote summer camp program chock full of virtual fun, interaction, and skill-building. Through creating RAD Remote we not only found a way for our campers to be able to enjoy this year’s camp safely at home due to COVID-19 through virtual interaction and even some socially distanced surprise visits from the volunteers across SoCal, but it also opened up a new platform to reach people on our waitlist and go beyond serving just Southern California residents.
In light of RAD Remote’s tremendous response, we’re taking the model we conceptualized for this year’s RAD Camp and are working on developing an ongoing subscription service, RAD Club, where for a small monthly fee subscribers can access tons of specially created content, Zoom videos, a live community Zoom event each month, various activates, caregiver resources, a monthly newsletter, and more. We hope to launch the RAD Club subscription by early October.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It would have to be Katie Webb, my business partner, best friend, and RAD Co-Founder. She has so much creativity, vision, and is always down to take risks. I always say she is the Steve Jobs to my Tim Cook. She dreams up amazingly creative ideas and I work to find a way to do them at scale. She has an incredible ‘Yes I can’ attitude and is always positive and determined- it’s something that has really fueled RAD (and me!), then and now.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
In addition to running a business and a non-profit, I’m a mom of three kids under the age of six, so it’s certainly been a challenge! My family is a dual-income household so trying to both find creative ways to pitch in where we can without compromising our work or clients has been difficult, but through proactive planning and scheduling, we’ve been able to manage.
Times have been challenging and so many people have faced furloughing or losing their jobs altogether, so it’s been my mission during all of this to avoid that and I’m happy to have kept every one of my employees working to date. I’m the co-founder of a women-owned business with an entirely female team and ensuring they were all able to keep working has been so important to us and something we’ve put so much energy into.
Lastly, it’s been hard to figure out how to find the right balance in every aspect of life. The world is starting to reopen so keeping the businesses running and facilitating my children’s learning needs all while running a household can be tough. At the end of the day, the solution has been a little less sleep, a lot of hard work and planning, and wearing many hats — something I’d assume most working mothers/parents are doing right now.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
- Prioritized my kids — I’ve always been a working mother, but they need me and the security and stability my husband and I give them, now more than ever. When we build out our family schedules, we always include dedicated time for them to spend with us.
- I then focus on my clients — this time has forced us to all be real humans and explain that as always we’ll get the work done at the caliber they’ve always expected but that time is a little more conflicted during COVID-19.
- I’m so thankful to have parents that are semi-retired, nearby and also rockstars! Having the ability to ask them to help out when they’re available has been such a godsend. I think we all need to be willing and able to ask for help when and where we can during this time to get by.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
Being a business owner right now is difficult, regardless of gender. Each day you just have to work extremely hard to stay afloat by making educated guesses and do your best to keep everyone gainfully employed. During COVID-19, we’ve focused on how we can pivot to do things virtually, where can we be flexible, etc. There isn’t a clear path forward right now, it’s more about trial and error and busting your rear to keep everything you’ve worked for going.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
In uncertain times, you have to be willing to do whatever is needed to keep the business going. If that means all things virtual, then we’re going to test things out and find out the best platforms for our services, etc. Diversification is another important component. If you’re nimble and have the vision to see where you can expand your offerings — like we’re doing with RAD Club — you’re going to find new ways to succeed, even in a difficult climate.
Can you share your advice about how to best work remotely, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Prioritizing has worked well for my family so far. I’ve created a family calendar with everything the kids have going on for school, my husband’s work schedule, and mine. I do as much as we can to plan our work deliverables and meetings around their school schedule so we can each pitch in as much as possible — being proactive is so important. By overlaying the calendar and seeing where we can be flexible or where we need to ask for help from my parents (who have been in our quarantine bubble) has been instrumental in making our homeschool, family, and work schedules manageable.
I also do a lot of batch scheduling. For instance, I try to plan all of my work calls/meetings on Mondays so I can be a bit more flexible for family/school needs during the rest of the week.
Another important tool for both balance and productivity is having very defined workspaces. I’ve created an area in the house where the kids know — if you’re there, you’re in school mode. The same goes for me. If I’m in my office, the kids know that I’m in “work mode” and are to do their best not to interrupt.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
I’ve tried to limit screen time for my kids to help with their overall mood and behavior. Instead, I try to incorporate more activities like puzzles, coloring, building blocks, heading outside to ride scooters or going on a walk to help get that extra energy out.
Movement has been really important for me as well. Instead of staying cooped up inside stuck in front of the computer all day — and when I’m able to, I’ll take some of my calls during a long walk. I also remember to give myself at least a few minutes of alone time each day to reset and calm myself of the stresses from that day.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective = can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”?
- It has forced creativity — people are reimagining ways to do things, getting innovative, and having to pivot to find new ways to do business across the globe.
- Despite the stress that COVID-19 has placed on us all, I think it has created a collective slow down and reminded us to take a breath and a step back to appreciate what we have.
- This time has allowed us to reevaluate our priorities in life and focus on health and what is most important in the grand scheme of things.
- It’s created more family time. I’ve been a working mom since I became pregnant with twins and as a small business owner, there was no maternity leave. I feel I’ve been given the opportunity to become not just their mom but their teacher, advocate, and coach because of this.
- So many people have had to pivot to a work-from-home routine while the kids are there, too. It’s created a new wave of acceptance of the work/family balance and I hope people can stay this accepting even after we’ve moved past this pandemic.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
One of my sons went through a period in the beginning of the pandemic where he was experiencing a great deal of anxiety from all the changes and unknowns that had suddenly impacted his day-to-day. Being so young, and since he doesn’t quite have the emotional maturity to discuss his feelings yet, it took time to figure out the best way to address it. We first learned that creating a visual schedule helped him to understand how his days would be laid out, making him feel more in control. Next, we worked on communication — regularly asking things like, “Is something scaring you?” or “Are you feeling nervous and how can I help?” We also began to let him make some small decisions to curb his anxiety — picking out what game or activity we do or where we’re getting lunch and found that giving him that small sense of control was helpful in a time where so much is out of our control.
Personally, I’ve learned to celebrate the little wins to stay positive. At the end of the day, I think back and acknowledge things like, “Wow, my kids didn’t bicker today,” or “My client loved that presentation.” By doing so, it always refocuses my perspective and helps me to end the day on a good note; and when it comes to loved ones and friends, I like to think ‘What can I do today?’ It can be something as small as a text letting someone know you’re thinking of them. The little things can impact someone in a big way, especially during these tough times and it takes such a small effort.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Everything is figureoutable” — Marie Forleo. This quote has resonated with me so much from the moment I first heard it. If you approach every problem with that mindset, anything truly can be ‘figureoutable’. When you keep your mind open and put in the work, you can and will find a solution!
My other favorite sentiment is actually RAD’s mission statement — “Rising Above Disabilities”. We’ve been substituting the “D” for different words during the pandemic. If you believe you can rise above something, whether it’s a disability, difficulties, disease, or even distancing, you’ll remind yourself of how capable you are and will always rise above!
How can our readers follow you online?
RAD Social Media: