EAP 13: Meredith Moore Crosby – Defining Success and Creating Opportunities

Our guest on this episode of the Early Accountability podcast is Meredith Moore Crosby, a leadership coach with her family’s company, Leverette Weekes.  After growing up in Minnesota, Meredith attended Howard University and worked her way through corporate America for many years, including working as the speechwriter for Don Thompson, the first African-American President and CEO of McDonald’s Corporation. During her time in the corporate world, she faced difficulties and limitations, but rather than surrendering in defeat, she decided to use what she had learned to help individuals and organizations as they navigated their corporate strategies and employee relations.

By helping people walk through and comprehend what “success” means to them, and what goals beyond success they would like to achieve, Meredith provides an invaluable service to her clients that creates opportunities both now and in the future.  In addition to her one-on-one services, she is in her second year of offering the PR Bootcamp course that gives entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs a community to bounce ideas off of and further solidify their business plans. Meredith also conducts a writing challenge in which she encourages everyone to write daily in order to dispell the fear associated with writing and develop this crucial skill for the participants’ personal and professional lives.

Topics Covered in this Episode:

  • Using your definition of “success” to guide your aspirations
  • Creating opportunities in your spheres of influence
  • Advocating for yourself in the corporate setting
  • A brief overview of the PR Bootcamp course (link for more information below)

Connect with Meredith:

Link to PR Boot Camp: https://www.leveretteweekes.com/createopportunity-bootcamp

Leverette Weekes: https://www.leveretteweekes.com/about-us; info@leveretteweekes.com; (844) 765-1601

About Meredith

Meredith Moore Crosby is an enthusiastic and diplomatic strategic communications executive leading award-winning programs and global team building projects. Meredith has significant experience in issues management, media, and internal and management communications at Fortune 500 companies.

Meredith Moore Crosby is President and owner of Leverette Weekes, a management consulting and communications agency based in the Twin Cities and San Francisco Bay Area. Meredith’s corporate strategy focused the company’s efforts on operations and talent development achieving profitable sales and acquiring new clients in her first year. Meredith is responsible for the company’s innovative model of communications, coaching and consulting.

Well versed in global diversity and inclusion and corporate communications, Meredith works with companies and business leaders as an executive coach. As a member of Forbes Coaches Council and columnist at Insight News, Meredith is a regular contributor to the narrative of second-generation business leaders and the challenges of balancing entrepreneurship.

Meredith’s accomplishments prior to taking the entrepreneurial leap include McDonald’s Corporation, 3M, and Comcast Cable.

Full Transcript

Welcome to the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’ hosted by Kimi Walker. Kimi has a track record of serving as a behavior change, and improvement catalyst for individuals, groups, and organizations. Get ready to make the best version of yourself a priority. Now welcome Kimi Walker.

Kimi:               Kimi Walker here and welcome to the next episode of the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’. Today I have with me Meredith. Hi Meredith, how are you?

Meredith:         I’m good. Thanks for having me.

Kimi:               Thank you for being here. Meredith is here from Leverette Weekes, correct?

Meredith:         Yes, that’s it; Leverette Weekes.

Kimi:               Okay, why don’t you start off by introducing yourself, telling people about what you do, where you’re from, and how you kind of got into your business that you do today?

Meredith:         Sure, so I was born and raised in Minnesota, and that’s a big part of my story of who I am growing up. Minnesota is known for having one of the largest education equity gaps in the country, we are second to Mississippi. And it’s surprising because we also have a large number of Fortune 500 companies and we have the highest per capita giving in the country.

So I grew up here and left to go to school, I went to Howard University and studied communications because I really wanted to help understand that gap that I experience between what I was living and what people were sending back to me as somebody different that experience of being diverse. And then navigating through Corporate America and managing people. I really saw how not knowing the rules of life not understanding how your difference can be a strength or a weakness you know can really hurt you in the long run.

And when I became a mom, it changed the way I look at work because it was no longer just something that I was really good at. I started my career as a speech writer, was really my big thing and I ended up being the speechwriter for Don Thompson who became the first African-American C.E.O. of McDonald’s Corporation. And it was a huge opportunity and I got to study and really understand and make recommendations about how more women could break through the glass ceiling at the time McDonald employed 1.9 million people and those were the folks that were directly employed, it did not count for the suppliers and the other influence that you have when you’re in a big corporation.

And so as a woman of color, I really paid attention to the lessons and there were some things that were realities and there were some things that were goals and what I saw was that for all of the opportunity there were still rules, right. And when I became a mom, I really struggled, my health really struggled and I ended up you know really taking a hard look at what success was for me. And I was killing myself for a job. I decided that success for me was really building a legacy and that meant taking care of my health that meant taking care of my family that meant investing in my own development. And so I, after navigating through corporate America and moving from company to company to really learn and apply my skills in different environments, I decided to become a leadership coach and I grounded it in Applied Positive Psychology with Valerie Burton who is a mentor of mine and it really helped me work through my own issues as a recovering strong black woman coming out of Corporate America and being a fixer. Where people would come into your office and say, “This went wrong what do I do?” “This happened, what do we do next?”

And so, that’s a really hard, not only you know skill to use, it’s also a really hard mentality to sometimes keep healthy. And so, I work with clients who are setting really big goals, “Like I want to get from here to California but I don’t have a car” You know and so how do you help somebody get somewhere, when they’re not yet totally clear on their vision? How are we going to get there, is a big question?

And so, as a leadership coach, I work with people who are fully capable of getting from here to California, they just need the help of somebody to navigate that path. So, that is my calling at this point is to really be able to help people who are in the position where you know work is more than success, they are trying to navigate a pathway to more than that, whatever that might be for them. So for me ‘Leverette Weekes’ is my More not only because More is my maiden name and my dad’s name, but it’s my dad’s company and my whole life navigating in Corporate America. I originally wanted to just go into philanthropy. I originally wanted to just go into frankly owning a business. I wanted to just be able to do whatever I wanted to do and my parents told me that I needed to get experience in corporations. I needed to get experience in school. I needed to get education.

So I made a commitment to myself that I was going to apply everything I learned to my family’s brand. Because the older I got, the more I understood the commitment and the sacrifice and the investment my parents made for me. In order for me to go to school. In order for me to have a corporate career. In order for me to do everything I did, my parents have done so much for me. So Leverette Weekes is my paying it forward and it’s not only uplifting their brand but I hope that by people seeing what we’re doing and by me sharing how I’m doing it as a coach and through our social media, through our PR boot camps, through strategic planning sessions, that we can help more organizations take that lead, brake great through those ceilings and create more organizations where people can lead and be different and create cultures. So more people can navigate home to something that feels comfortable way or can be successful and be happy. So that’s my purpose.

Kimi:               That’s awesome! You said a lot and there’s a lot that you’re really doing and helping. Now to gain clarity, you work primarily with people who like might be self-employed or who are in Corporate America or a mixture of both?

Meredith:         It’s a mixture both, so that means that you could be a Department Head in a company. It means you could be an Executive Director in an organization. You could be a Regional lead. It’s often somebody who has taken on responsibility for something bigger than themselves. So, it could be starting your own business or it could be being in the profit and loss area.

Kimi:               I know you’re calling yourself as like an opportunity creator correct?

Meredith:         Yes, our tagline “Create Opportunities”

Kimi:               “Create Opportunities.” Talk more about that. Is that guiding people in the process of seeing opportunities that they might not have noticed? Is it truly saying, “Okay this is what I want for myself and I’m going to create the framework for this idea or goal that I have for myself or this job that I want to attain, this promotion I want to gain?”

Meredith:         Yes, so it’s most of the latter, ‘create opportunity’ really is what, when I define my career I always was looking at what more could I be doing? What opportunity could I create with this moment because I never think that you just get what you have in front of you? I post on Instagram this TD Jakes quote about you know “God never made a chair he made a tree you know, but somebody had to see that tree and make it into a chair” And when I interviewed my dad about why he started a company 45 years ago he said, “Because he didn’t have a choice” even though he had a law degree from Howard University, he has a bar in California which is the most difficult state to pass, he couldn’t get a job that would support him at the level he needed.

And so ‘create opportunity’ for me is that whether you just want to aim higher or whether you don’t have a choice sometimes you have to create, you got to make things happen. And those are the people that I like to work with, the people who want to make things happen.

Kimi:               Awesome. Why you are in corporate, I know you had a very impressive career. What was the hardest battle you had to tackle or overcome especially as a woman of color in Corporate America?

Meredith:         I think the hardest, it’s not an incident or a thing or want, it really was advocating for myself, even though I work in diversity and was responsible for you know really how can we improve something, you know how can we create a program, how can we address a problem? It’s very hard when you are talking about people who look like you and it’s hard to be objective. It’s hard to not take things personal even when there is research. You know, an example would be growing up, you know in Minnesota there’s a lot of facts about the lack of achievement. But it’s not lack of achievement for lack of trying, its lack of achievement for access. It’s lack of achievement for being whacked out. And it’s hard in Corporate America because women of color often penalized for our passionate. And my voice is very passionate, my actions are very passionate.

You know, navigating that where some people, you know when you say corporate activists, there’s a look. And there’s one version of corporate activist that navigates up the ladder very successfully because that looks really great on an ad and we can all get behind that that looks like what we think a revolution should look like?

And there’s another version of Revolution that is doing the work every day and filling out the paperwork and terminating people and making tough hiring decisions. And very often, it’s the women of color right that are doing the administrative work that does [inaudible] [10:13] on a magazine cover but it makes the difference between good and bad, winning and losing. So, that navigating that, telling that story and being a part of that story I think is the hardest part because you really don’t get a chance to be that vulnerable when you’re in Corporate America. You have to be strong and [inaudible] [10:37]

Kimi:               Absolutely, I can imagine. What is the PR Boot Camp?

Meredith:         So, PR Boot Camp, I created so that I could reach more people. So it’s group coaching, its once a week and we really walk through the steps of, if you are in a position where you’re feeling stuck and you want to make a leap and you don’t want to make that by yourself. We go through what are the pieces that you need in order to make your picture of what’s next. And so it starts with looking at your time because very often we as women don’t give ourselves credit for all that we’re doing. And so, really looking at your skills, where you’re spending your energy, looking at your resources and utilizing that.

So often we have mentors and advisors who would be more than willing to help us but we haven’t taken the time to think about what are we asking people to do. So it’s a mix of leadership coaching and then personal branding. So as you get that clarification, how are you then communicating that out to your family, to your network? And if you’re currently in a job how are you messaging that in your performance review? How are you leveraging your workplace to really gain the most skills possible? And so you’re setting realistic timelines that aren’t going to put unnecessary stress on you or your wife.

So we’re all about creating sustainable plans and also creating sustainable communities, so that you’re building a network professionally that’s going to support wherever your identity lands as you go through the twelve weeks together.

Kimi:               That’s awesome. So, has that program started or its ongoing?

Meredith:         So, we had our first class last year and we called it “Our circle of founders” was our first and they are all entrepreneurs. So we, [inaudible] [12:28] the PR Boot Camp because this year we have more people who are in that transition period of being in the workplace and considering going into full time entrepreneurship. So we’ve adapted it to be more about your LinkedIn profile and setting up things like your Shopify account, so that people who want to do a side hustle can also set that up.

Kimi:               Okay, so you’re really helping a lot of people who may want to take the leap or who just may want to, like you said, “Do this on the side to see if it’s a good fit”

Meredith:         Yes, test is out, in a supportive group. That will tell you, “You need to put more thought into that” and then we can help you with the plan and what that looks like. Or, what happens most of the time is, you were ready to go and you just need people outside of your network to really give you that third person thumbs up and then support you. Much like you’ve done for me kimi. You know, having [inaudible] [13:22] out here in social media is really helpful. This is all very scary and it’s new for a lot of people.

So we create that and it gives people the confidence and not only have a clan but to stick with it.

Kimi:               Yes, yes and you are very good at what you do and you give a lot of great feedback I can say to personally and professionally and taken a lot from this.  I know you have a very great platform that you’ve built. Now if someone will want to learn more information about all of the services that you offer because in addition to just with individuals you also offer corporate services as well too, like to large corporate?

Meredith:         Yes we do Corporate Strategy and Public Relations and Leadership Coaching.

Kimi:               Okay, if someone wanted to learn about whether it’s an individual or a corporation or a small business, how would they learn more information about you and your company, to learn more about the services?

Meredith:         You can go to leveretteweekes.com or you can give us a call at 8447651601. You can also email us at info@leveretteweekes.com

Kimi:               That’s awesome. Now, I know you also did a writing challenge correct?

Meredith:         yes.

Kimi: I             want you to touch a little bit on that because I know there is a lot of aspiring, I talk more and more each day to people who are like, “I have this journal I want to write, I know I want to write this book” What inspired you to do that and create this system, which I think it’s great by the way?

Meredith:         Oh, thank you. You know, [laughs] I think everybody every coach has their release of, ‘you can’t help everybody’ but it hurts my feelings whenever I hear people tell me why they can’t write particularly African-American because historically we fought to read and write and so there’s no reason why we can’t all right.

And so I started it you know to provide that inspiration to people that I couldn’t reach yet, to just prompt them, you know to just remember that you have everything that you need inside of you and that writing isn’t meant to be a painful process it’s meant to be healing. It’s the thing I love. Writing is what inspired me to leave what I thought was work because I realized that writing could be work and I think more people get that chance to just incorporate writing into your day, appreciate where you’re writing in your day. You know been its not so daunting when you say you know write 500 words on something. You start to look forward to it and then you fall in love with it.

Kimi:               I think and I know even for me personally, I’ve been participating in the challenge and although I’m not writing a book I still am a content creator so for my blogs or for my website so really helped keep me kind of on track with it. So I think that’s a great platform to and people should definitely look into that with you, who want to just write or create content not necessarily even if they’re looking at write a book or a journal just to write more or to put their thoughts down on paper. So that’s a really strong platform and I really wanted to highlight that too because it’s helped me stay on top of what I need to do. [Laughs] And remain accountable, so thank you for that.

Meredith:         Well, thank you. You know you asked me a good question that I didn’t answer about, “How do you right about things that are hard to write about?” I think that was the question right?

Kimi:               Oh, yes.

Meredith:         And I’ve really been thinking about that. And how do you, have you had the chance to think about that at all, have you had an experience?

Kimi:               The things that, kind of like I was saying to you. The things that hurt to write about sometimes I know those are the things I need to write about but I think getting through it is what is hard. So it may be a day where you just put a title to it, you know you might not be able to fully journal about it or talk about it. It maybe a week later writing the next sentence, [laughs] you know and being patient with yourself. I think having supports in groups like what you’re doing with the writing challenge are important because seeing other people show vulnerability in visibility and transparency is so empowering. It’s so encouraging to see some of the other things that other people have went through and overcome to say, “Well man, if they can tell their story I can tell mine too or I can share this concept too”

So, am a big, big fan of just accountability circles and having those communities and I think community is so important in African-American community in general just so we have that support or like you said that encouragement you know that third person would say, “Oh that’s fine that’s great” or “You know, you are really strong, you know I’m proud of you.” So I think those are sometimes overlooked but huge factor sometimes in helping people push forward.

Meredith: Yes, I like that. The other day I was writing something that was you know I was getting emotional it’s hard to think back and I wanted to stop and what push me forward was answering the question. And so I added that to my coaching in terms of ‘What question is the next generation asking you?’ Because that’s really when I think about the hard questions, the hard things I don’t want to write about are when I think about it, somebody was going to study my life right. Like they have seen your class project, I mean right. They’re studying this [inaudible] [19:01] you know what’s the question that they’re asking and is there an answer to that in the world? You know, it’s really getting into like, “Wow yes, what do you want the world to know about you? And are you really going to share that? And what do you want them to learn out of it?

Kimi:               Yes. And I think that sometimes our pain from the past and our passion, releasing it sometimes can set us free but like you said it can touch so many other people. So sometimes we do have to look and check even our ego through our pain to see if, “Can I be paying this forward in some way?”

Like you said, “If somebody look back over my life or if I could pay this lesson forward to the next person. Am I my sheltering it in a way and keeping it to myself that I’m not paying this forward in the world? And it’s a hard delicate balance I know just because of how things are nowadays in social media but it is definitely something for introspection like you said, to just really see what am I giving forward to the next generation?

Meredith:         Yes, and I think that’s the deciding factor from the beginning, what platforms you are using to write. You know because there are things that are not social media but it might be that book that’s written for somebody to read when they’re going through a dark place and you know. There is something to think about Kimi, your blog and grow and grow and grow.

Kimi:               Yes, well thank you so much Meredith. Now, what is on your day to day like, let’s say you’re a very busy woman, you’re handling corporations, you’re coaching individuals, you’re a wife, you’re a mother. What is your mantra that gets you through and pushes you forward and helps you keep everything together, like you say self care is so important? What is it or what are the mantras you use to keep yourself pushing forward?

Meredith:         I have a whole lot, [inaudible] [21:01-03] but, I would tell you the two that I’m like currently [inaudible] [21:06-08]

Kimi:               absolutely.

Meredith:         I follow Pastor E on Instagram and she does the morning inspiration. And her affirmation has been “Every day and every way, I’m getting better and better” so as a perfectionist I repeat that to myself all the time.

And then the other one, I can’t remember where I pick up but people say yes to me. And so, you know a lot of [inaudible 21:30-31] taught me a lot [inaudible] [21:31-32]  and if you think about it more times than not people are saying yes to you during the course of your day. So those are my two that am currently hard to trot on.

Kimi:               Those are great. I like those especially I like the second one. Sometimes, especially in the workplace if you feel like people or the cards are stacked against you it is good to see that or remember that everything is still working for your good and pushing you forward as an individual.

Thank you Meredith so, so much for your time and your expertise. And again leveretteweekes.com for more information. And what was the number if they want to call for more, to get a discovery call to see if you are a good fit.

Meredith:         It’s 8447651601.

Kimi:               Thank you again for your time and we appreciate you coming and gracing the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’ with your presence Meredith.

Meredith:         Thank you, thanks for having me Kimi.

Kimi:               You are welcome. Until next time.

It was a pleasure to have you join us on this episode of the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’ with Kimi Walker. Be sure to visit earlyaccountability.com to sign up for the Early Accountability newsletter. We look forward to activating your greatness and helping you reach your goals.

 

 

 

 

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