Here at YCB magazine, we love to speak to inspirational women. Those that inspire us and empower us to follow our dreams and be fearless in the pursuit of doing so. One lady who has endless words of wisdom is Megan Driscoll. Megan is the founder of EvolveMKD, a tight knit team of brand builders, social gurus and digital experts based in New York City. This all-girl team seriously know their stuff, and we had the pleasure of catching up with CEO Megan to find out all about her personal career and day-to-day life as the head of EvolveMKD…
Hi Megan! Thank you for making the time to chat with us, first things first though – we have a very important question for you! Tea or coffee?
Tea, all day long, usually green.
Okay, we’ll forgive you. We’d love to find out a little background info on your journey from school to founder of EvolveMKD. Where did you go to University and what did you study?
The University of Chicago and Public Policy.
What was your first job in the corporate world?
My first internship was with Merrill Lynch and my first full time public relations job was with Havas.
Wow, impressive! What were you doing before you decided to make the move and setup your own company?
Prior to launching EvolveMKD, I was a partner in another U.S. PR agency, helping to manage the agency staff, work on key client accounts and handle new business development. Prior to that agency, I had worked at agencies large and small, including Lippe Taylor, Fleishman Hillard, and Edelman.
It sounds like you have some fantastic experience under your belt! We’re keen to find out what was it that made you decide to take the leap from employed to boss of your own business?
I always wish I had a sexier answer to this question, but truly, I opened the business out of necessity. About six months into my business partnership at my last agency, it became clear it wasn’t going to work out long-term. I realized I had a choice – I could go to another agency, be someone else’s right hand and potentially have the same experience repeat itself or I could be brave and try to do this on my own. It was really scary and still, sometimes I can’t believe I actually did it, but it’s been the best decision I have ever made. I’ve learned so much about myself, other people and life, that regardless of what happens next, I wouldn’t change a thing.
You’re certainly brave but it seems as though the risk most definitely paid off for you! What’s your favourite part about working for yourself at Evolve MKD?
I love that so much of our work at EvolveMKD revolves around teamwork. Both internally and externally, having that feeling that people have your back and you are all working towards a common goal is priceless.
“If you use the fear to drive you, it becomes a useful tool.” – Megan Driscoll
Team work makes the dream work! There has to be a downside though, are there any parts of the job you dislike?
All the administrative items – the invoicing, the insurance, the paperwork that as a business you have to file. It’s not that any of it is hard, it is enormously time consuming and sometimes, not all that clear.
You don’t have to talk to use about admin, we totally get it! What have been the biggest changes in your lifestyle as a result of setting up your own business?
Running a business has changed my lifestyle in the sense that you really have to be selfish with your time and energy. Between getting the work done for clients, giving time to your staff, industry networking and travel, it’s easy to find yourself not making time for the things that really rejuvenate and energize you. I’ve had to make a conscious effort to say no to things and not overschedule myself, so I can continue to make sure I exercise, get enough sleep, laugh with the people I love and sometimes, just do nothing. One of the things I do now is I look out at the month ahead and I schedule in all my exercise, as well as schedule in date nights with my husband and nights I will have no plans. It makes it a lot easier to make sure those items really happen that month and that I plan around them.
It’s great to hear that you still find time to schedule in your exercise classes and of course, date nights! It can be too easy to let work consume you but we’re big believers in a healthy work/life balance here at YCB. So, what is it you get up to when you’re not working?
I think if you asked many people, they’d say I am never NOT not working. I love trying new restaurants in the city, reading, traveling, very stiff cocktails and making out with my husband.
Haha, yes we think that comes hand in hand with being self employed! Work never really stops. Okay, so we’d love a few top tips for our readers who are thinking about setting up their own business…
I would say to be brave. Whether it’s to take the plunge to do it, make that big investment hire that you know will drive your business to the next level or say no to business that you know will drag your team morale down, being brave each day is an essential component to having a successful business. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be scary or nervewracking times, but if you use the fear to drive you, it becomes a useful tool.
We love that, use the fear to drive you! What would you say are the essential skills needed to run a business?
Learn to love numbers. Understanding your business financials and having the right team behind you to ensure that everything from your forecasting to hiring planning to your taxes is organized and correct is essential. Data and information gives you power to make better decisions and to walk away from things that are not working, before they become expensive mistakes.
Very wise advice there, Megan, thank you! What would you say is your biggest accomplishment in your career to date?
I am proud of two things: 1) That Evolve has been able to donate 10% of our profits for the past two years to charities in the U.S. that support underprivileged women and children. As a business owner, I think you have a responsibility to the community around you – to create and give opportunities to everyone. 2) I am proud that Evolve has created more than 15 jobs in the past 2.5 years. I recently learned that in the U.S., only 20% of the small businesses have created jobs for others and out of that group, only 5% have created more than 10 jobs.
Wow that’s incredible, well done you and your team! Now we know your biggest accomplishment, we’d also love to hear about your biggest lesson learned so far?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to trust my own judgment. People will offer opinions and advice (sometimes, without being asked!) and while usually very helpful, at the end of the day, I’m the one who knows my business and where I want it to go, the best. Anytime I’ve not listened to myself and gone with the advice of someone that I think likely knows more than I do, it’s resulted in a mistake that could have been avoided.
It’s definitely important to trust your own instinct! So, tell us what does a day in the life of Megan Driscoll looks like?
Unless I have a meeting or am traveling, I typically wake up around 8 am. I’ll grab my phone and quickly scan my emails/texts from bed, and then I’ll hop out and get dressed/ready for the day. Either I’ll head directly to the office or if we have a morning event, I’ll head over to the event, to say hi to the clients and our media friends. When I get to the office, I’ll usually be on back to back phone calls until I sneak out to go to pilates mid-day for about an hour. When I return, I’ll have additional client calls and team meetings, to make sure we’re meeting client deadlines and I am weighing in on the work. I usually will leave the office between 7 – 8 pm and head either to a networking dinner, my Women’s President Organization meeting or have dinner with a client, media or physician connection. If I am really lucky, one of those nights during the week I get to have a date with my husband!
Wow, it’s certainly busy being a girl boss! Okay, one final question for you – as a CEO what are the things you couldn’t live without?
My husband and my daily workout. Both help keep my physical and mental spirit healthy.
Aw, the perfect answer! Thank you so much for the letting us catch-up Megan, its been a pleasure. Your words are inspiring and it’s certainly an incredible journey that you’re on. Find out more about Megan and her talented team at http://evolvemkd.com