Meagan Hooper is the founder of bSmart Guide, a platform for young professional women. The site provides advice on topics including money, style, heath, beauty, romance, work, and living. They believe that the key to helping women be smart is linking them to great resources and other likeminded women. Meagan just launched the first virtual mentorship group and I know it’s already helping so many women connect. I’m excited for you to get to know her today!
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties when I learned that approximately 5% of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies have female CEOs (20% of women hold senior positions in North America), 2% of venture capital funding goes to women owned businesses (38% of U.S. businesses are owned by women), 19% of Congress are women and women still earn $0.77 for every $1.00 a man earns.
I found these statistics shocking and saw a need for successful women to share their stories with millennial women for how to be smart with their careers, money, relationships, and lifestyle. I believe who is communicating is as important as what is being communicated – particularly in educating and empowering women in STEM fields, politics, finance, or any industry underrepresented with senior women at the top.
I also saw a need for community support and skill-based learning for inspirational women who have big goals. Millennials are already trailblazers creating businesses and opportunities out of necessity due to low employment and underemployment. While the democratization of technology has made knowledge and entrepreneurship more accessible, everyone needs a group of supportive and enthusiastic peers walking along side them to help them achieve success.
What is bSmart’s mission and how do you achieve it?
Our mission is to provide millennial women with knowledge and support to help them achieve their goals and change the world. To do this, we feature successful women in finance, fashion, technology, art, health, beauty, and blogging, as well as relationship experts and authors. We share their expertise and stories with our members. We also profile women owned businesses and share blog posts written by our members.
We recently launched the bSmart Community Mentor Program for peer mentorship and networking opportunities in small groups of 10. The peer mentorship takes place in online groups through discussion threads and video chats from the comfort of your own home and anywhere in the world. We hope this peer mentorship community eventually supports all young women looking for support and skills to achieve their goals and change the world.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start her own business?
My advice for starting your own business is to do as much as you can during nights and weekends before you leave your job, while you’re in school, or while you’re living at home. Try to take your business as far as you can so that you aren’t starting from scratch on “day one” as a full-time entrepreneur. After you start working full-time on your business, plan for at least two years of testing and learning the ropes before you accomplish your vision and generate meaningful income. Have a way to earn money or live off your savings over those two years so that your business can grow and pivot the way it needs (and you can still pay your rent). If you plan to take the leap, or have taken the leap to becoming a full-time entrepreneur, join a bSmart Community mentor group to support you on this wonderful roller coaster journey!
What has been the most surreal moment so far?
Being a Millennial Contributor on Fox Business regarding trends in technology, education, equality, and venture capital was certainly a surreal experience. But, honestly, seeing our members experience a supportive community online and have the heart to replicate that experience for other members is my most thrilling experience every week. I’m so excited about our community and the opportunity to share that support with every young woman in the world who is looking for the skills and support to achieve her goals.
What qualities do you look for when you hire someone?
There is a place for everyone in the bSmart community. Our community mentorship program utilizes a curriculum called The bSmart Guide which encompasses all of the training and self-examination we find useful in working with, and for, bSmart. From clarifying your personal mission, to understanding your strengths, to learning how to live with balance – all of the resources we study in our community mentorship program prepare our members to be leaders in our community if they desire.
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
Millennials have had to be very flexible about what jobs they get and where they can afford to live after school. My advice is to bloom where you’re planted as it could be the unlikely next step for your dream career.
I know multiple people who created amazing careers in fashion, entertainment, and finance all from their start in babysitting — including me! In terms of whether to leave your job — someone once told me not to leave a job unless I can’t learn anymore and can’t earn anymore. That motivated me to dig in my heals and both learn more and earn more. It’s a great mantra to re-energize any job if you’ve been working longer than two years and feel stuck in your role.
Conversely, it’s really important you pick the city, company, or industry that you want to grow in overtime, even if you’re in the lowest level position in that company. I started as a receptionist at a hedge fund in New York and became the chief operating officer by the age of 27. I would never have experienced such growth if I wasn’t in a large city in a thriving firm – even though my entry level job was as entry as you can get.
You worked in finance for 10 years. What advice do you have for people who hope to work in finance?
I was a theater major who worked my way up the corporate ladder from administrative assistant to chief operating officer. As you might imagine, the biggest challenge for me was learning the vocabulary and math behind the principles and strategies of an investment management firm. However, once I learned the vocabulary and math, I was so thrilled that someone like me could learn these things that I wanted to share the operations and methods with anyone who wanted to learn, regardless of their background or firm role.
My advice is to take ownership over your skills and knowledge by teaching yourself. I used Investopedia, Wikipedia, and Google every day. Also, to be grateful to anyone who takes the time to show you the ropes. My mentor did a great job at explaining finance to me and never doubted I could learn the business — even when I did!
I also want to mention how important it is to create relationships with people working in your industry. Spend time on nights and weekends getting to know people in your industry and in roles more senior than yours. These are the people you will work with for years to come.
What advice would you give to someone who is in the first five years of their career?
I was an open curriculum student at Wake Forest University and having this type of ownership over my education instilled in me a value in creating my own path versus being told the path I should take. This experience has served me as an adult in that I continue to create my own “life curriculum” that I design.
I encourage all young women to make the time to dream, plan, and execute their life curriculum. If that seems overwhelming, the bSmart Guide is here to help.
The book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People states, “Begin with the End in Mind.” Think about where you want to be in ten years. Describe in as much detail as possible. Think about the location, firm culture, daily life, industry, and skills you hope to be utilizing ten years from now. Next, determine if where you currently live and work will lead you down that path. If not, move to a city or job that will allow for that growth and opportunity. (Even if it means taking a step back initially.)
If you are on the right road, keep your head down, do good work, and press forward. You’ll get there little by little every day — and speak up when you’re ready for more responsibility!
What is a fun fact about you?
I love to make people laugh and plan to dust off my old stand-up comedy routines this spring to perform at open mic nights around New York City. I think I’ll also write some new material about being an entrepreneur and working in women’s empowerment as this process has been a learning (and humorous) experience at times. I’ll be sure to let all bSmart members know when I’ll be performing.
What is your favorite quote?
The below quote from Marianne Williamson expresses what I want all bSmart members to know and feel from reading our content, being part of our community, and promoting their passions on our platform.
Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
Thank you, Meagan!