Episode 49: Denise Meridith
Entrepreneur Conundrum Podcast
EC 01 | 4min
About The Guest
If one looked at the glass ceiling breaker, a photo of Denise Meridith should pop up whether it is being the first African-American to be valedictorian at her New York City elementary school to integrating a white high school, to being the first woman professional hired by the Federal Bureau of Land Management and every bureau management job after that for the first black woman. She won many awards from business, academics and nonprofit groups. She has been a pioneer after a distinguished career in profit, nonprofit and academic settings. Denise decided to call herself a couple of years ago. She created World’s Best Connectors, a virtual community of successful CEOs who helped other executives enhance their connections with family, employees, clients, government and the media.
Virginia [00:00:01] Welcome to Entrepreneur Conundrum with Virginia Purnell. Where growing entrepreneurs share how they get visible online.
Virginia [00:00:09] Hi, everyone. Today I’m talking with Denise Meridith about how she helps connect Business C Suite executives with opportunities and resources to fill their own desired life objectives. If one looked at the glass ceiling breaker, a photo of Denise Meridith should pop up whether it is being the first African-American to be valedictorian at her New York City elementary school to integrating a white high school, to being the first woman professional hired by the Federal Bureau of Land Management and every bureau management job after that for the first black woman winning many awards from business, academics and nonprofit groups. She has been a pioneer after a distinguished career in profit, nonprofit and academic settings. Denise decided to call herself a couple of years ago. She created World’s Best Connectors, a virtual community of successful CEOs who helped other executives enhance their connections with family, employees, clients, government and the media. Welcome, Denise.
Meridith [00:01:07] Oh, I’m so glad to be here. Virginia.
Virginia [00:01:10] It’s fun having you.
Meridith [00:01:11] Yeah, thanks for the invitation.
Virginia [00:01:15] Oh you’re welcome?
Virginia [00:01:18] What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Meridith [00:01:22] I think I probably want to inspire, as most women here in the United States. Unfortunately, there’s always a lot of talk about how many women businesses are started here. And a lot of that is because they can’t progress in other businesses and corporations. They’re not promoted. So they sort of have to launch out on their own. Me on the other hand, I started working with the federal government. I spent most of my life at the federal government, which was great because there is actually a little more unanimity there. And at least everybody at the same grade gets the same salary, maybe issues getting women to different grades. But once they’re there and I get the same salary as the guy sitting next to them, but I was lucky enough to be able to retire early from that. And that’s why I became an entrepreneur. And I’d had a pretty good background in government because Bureau of Land management is what it’s called, a multiple use agency. So we work with private companies a lot. So I did have that background and that know how. So it was pretty much an easy transition into private sector,.
Virginia [00:02:27] So what do you like most about the work that you do now?
Meridith [00:02:29] I like something different every day. OK, I have a very short, short attention span and I like I like to start things. I’m not very good at maintenance, but I like to start things. So I being an entrepreneur and this job in particular, every day is a new day. Every time the phone rings, it’s going to be something new and different. There’s going to be a new challenge. I wake up and your cell phone’s not working like today. So I actually sort of like that idea of challenges and problems to be solved every day. I’m a check the box person. I’m a list maker and I like to go through that list every day. And it’s I like people. So my job is entirely working with other executives and I enjoy that economic growth.
Virginia [00:03:21] How do you find your clients?
Meridith [00:03:24] Yeah, because a lot of my job is to really encourage other executives to succeed in their own business. So a lot of the issues, particularly for women and people of color, is a confidence issue and put down so much. But in so long, I say sometimes it’s hard to see what up is. So I try to work with people, hopefully, on building their confidence. So I heard a very good talk last year. There were so many webinars last year. Right. I heard a really good talk from an African-American woman. The name of her talk was I charge for that.
Meridith [00:04:01] And it hit such a bell with me because that’s what I try to work with my clients on charge. What you’re worth. You very seldom hear or ever in fact, I’ve never heard a guy say, I’m not sure I can do that or oh well, maybe I’ll start down here and work my way up, or you need to go in there knowing what your abilities are and expecting to get paid for those abilities. You may miss a few opportunities. Obviously, people don’t want to do that, but in the long run, it’ll be best for you. And as you grow, as you build your confidence, it only gets better and better.
Virginia [00:04:48] So how do you help them build the confidence building process?
Meridith [00:04:53] Yeah, what I do is, one, you surround yourself with a lot of talented people and my group is that we have 50 advisers and associates, all successful. All who I think could be even more successful, but they’re all successful business people, so surrounding yourself with other people who are doing it have done it and you exchange information. I personally try to act as a role model. My career has been inspiring to a lot of people. So telling that story is important. Some people say that there is a way up and out and over the many hurdles that they may encounter. I do. I like to do public speaking. I do a lot of talks with groups. And I tend to talk about that, how to overcome obstacles and so between being a role model and myself and talking to people about. How to do it and then putting them among other people who have done it, I think is the most effective way that I’ve used car her her ideal client for you, my ideal client, sort of two different groups. One is young people.
Meridith [00:06:12] For some reason, I’m sort of like Yoda on a mountain, so they love to sit at my feet and hear these stories of knights and round tables and things that happen in ancient history. So I love being around college age kids, kids going to college. I recruit for colleges, encouraging them because they’re all very idealistic at that time, which I love. But I try to give them some hints and how to head the right direction than the other group. I appeal to the people on the other end. It’s like, oh my God, I’ve been in business for ten years and it’s been an uphill slog and I’ve about had it.
Meridith [00:06:52] I’m ready to give up. So I’m also pretty effective with those folks and getting them not to stop. Not just like I say. Man closes one door, God opens another. So there’s always a new opportunity. What looks like a failure? One point turns out to be a really good life lesson and the next moment and leads on to better things.
Meridith [00:07:18] So are sort of two groups, the people, idealistic people on their way up and the people that are stuck and keep them from going down.
Virginia [00:07:27] How do those people find you? Do you do facebook ads?
Meridith [00:07:32] Yeah, yeah.
Meridith [00:07:35] My group, World’s Best Connector’s is a virtual organization. So obviously social media is very very big about videos, et cetera.
Meridith [00:07:45] Our website is w w w dot the WBCSD. So tag WPEC Ask.com.
Meridith [00:07:53] We have sort of a superhero theme going for where the WBC so people can remember that. So we do that. I have weekly thoughts, which is very interesting. I blogged before I recall blog, so that’s how old I am. So it was just a weekly social media post, so pre blogs. But I have been doing that since, believe it or not, since about 2006. Every week I give out some hints or thoughts are literally thoughts that are called thoughts while chilling.
Meridith [00:08:27] So I give out my thoughts for the week which revolve around business, how to succeed in business or lessons to be learned from business. So I’ve been doing that since 2006, so that’s been very popular.
Meridith [00:08:39] I have hundreds and hundreds of people, believe it or not, people who have been on there since 2006 following me with that blog.
Meridith [00:08:47] So people, again, could sign up. I’ve moved it over to the Web site so people can sign up for the blog there. And that’s that’s really my direct connection. But through the years, I’ve also been a freelance writer, so I have several books out on Amazon. Thoughts while Chillum actually is the name of my first book out. And I also do. I’ve just started doing children’s books, believe it or not, completely different twist. But there are about my dog Gary, and they’re called The Adventures of Arry. He has his own website called The Adventures of Harry. What I do with that is try to give kids life lessons through my dog. He goes through these different experiences and comes out OK at the end. So he inspires kids. But really what I want to do is inspire adults with those books. I want to inspire people to talk to their kids, read to their kids. At least 15 minutes a day seems like a very simple task. But people have gotten away from reading to their kids.
[00:09:48] And so, you know, we need to start a young age so that by the time I see them ready to go to college, they have that confidence, they have that self-awareness, they have that sense of good and bad. Right and wrong will all be better off for the year.
[00:10:02] And a lot of ads for media for like for like or network than I used to be pretty much word of mouth person.
[00:10:11] The talks that I give people or people tell other people, people read my book and I pass them on. My book is probably the most passed on book ever.
[00:10:21] A lot of pages from different people reading, reading them. But I use Facebook. I use LinkedIn. Actually, for business people. Both are very important. Facebook is very important for ads and selling things. LinkedIn is right up my alley. Of course, it’s good for connecting people. I have thousands and thousands of people on LinkedIn and I am able to keep them into events. Coming up, important articles that have been out. What things that I’m doing and people are interested in, so I think those are very effective. You have all, of course, and I’m older, so I can’t keep up with all the new media.
[00:11:05] Like I’m not on tape yet. OK, I haven’t figured that one out yet. Pinterest, I think that’s sort of dying by the time I figure it out sort of on its way out Snapchat, I still have to work on it. So so there are many new ones coming out. I encourage people to keep up with them. And because especially the younger people, because that’s where they are.
[00:11:29] I was a newspaper reporter for most of my life and I know it’s sort of an endangered sort of an endangered species that way in which there just aren’t newspapers anymore. So I’m having and I think everybody is having to switch to social media, which is very effective. So now you can reach many more people through social media than you could through your newspaper articles, though I miss the old bylines in your photograph and everything in the weekly column.
[00:12:01] That was fun, but are big goals that you’re looking to achieve over the next year or two?
[00:12:09] OK, that’s a great question, because our goal is change rapidly as the world changes and the last year, but believe it or not, was dramatic for us because we were a virtual company. Not so much because what we’re trying we were trying to do and now that sped up is trying to work with CIOs to use virtual means of communicating with customers, even with their family. People really dish. The impact that social media and everything has had on family relationships. Well, you can use that in a positive way to people don’t, but they can. So what I hope to accomplish what we’re best connector is what I’ve been telling folks this year is, what, two years from now? I want people to say that world’s best connectors have had a major impact on their recovery, economic recovery, because we help people do what they don’t like to do. We help people do what they don’t have the capability of doing, but we help them do the things that they must do. So whether it’s better financial management, whether it’s staffing and recruitment, whether it’s managing, we have great programs on managing people remotely. How do you handle a global workforce now that you can’t ever see and without being suspicious of them having confidence in them to get the job done? We can help you with that. The self-confidence issue. We have personal coaches that help CEOs. They had it in the beginning when I started whatever business they do. But you can get beat down for a while and sometimes you need someone to help you back up and we can do that. So I hope two years from now, people just recognize world’s best connectors as having made a major impact on my life and getting them back to normal or back. And I’m going to have normal again. But getting back to business.
[00:14:09] Do you feel like there’s so many roadblocks for stopping me from doing?
[00:14:13] Yes, there is, like I mentioned, like I think about even though we were a virtual company, so we should have been pretty well off, we were when your customers are not well off, it still impacts you.
[00:14:26] So the economy is always going to be an issue one way or the other. Covid, again, didn’t impact us directly. We didn’t have members affected personally. Everybody was affected by it. We didn’t lose any members to that, luckily.
[00:14:45] It’s like a big cloud hanging over everybody’s head. And until we solve that problem, we’re going to have an issue. So and my thoughts last week, I put something out to encourage people to get the vaccine and encourage people to volunteer at vaccine centers, et cetera, et cetera, because we have to get on top of that. So that’s obviously going to be an issue. But unfortunately, one of the biggest issues that’s still around is autisms that I talk about.
[00:15:14] So sexism and racism and other forms of discrimination are wearing their head again. I never went away, but now they’re more visible. And that’s going to continue to be something that we have to fight against. Happening. Women are leaving the workforce at a great pace now a lot during the covid where they have to stay home with kids, they can’t really achieve what they had in. Mine. People of color were obviously the hardest hit by the disease itself and also by the lost jobs.
[00:16:00] Women and minorities, it’s going to be a tough couple of years or more and trying to recover from that. So I think those are the really two hurdles that are still facing us in the years ahead.
[00:16:11] Coming up, a little bit more positive. Yeah, that’s right. What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
[00:16:26] OK, the best advice that I ever received was. And it’s interesting because one of the people I mentor is ex NFL player, he wrote a book several years ago and he put the title on. It never stopped. And that’s really actually the best advice that I had ever received. And there are so many hurdles that people got to throw up to keep you from succeeding and you just could never stop. You just have to keep climbing. You have to keep jumping. You have over half the jump over the hurdles. One of the speeches that people hire me a lot this time of year because it’s Black History Month this year, this month, next month is Women’s History Month. And I’m very historic being my age.
[00:17:18] But so so I get asked to get it. A lot of talks.
[00:17:22] But one of the talks that I like to give is hurdles. Women must hurdle. And it’s about that people are constantly and sometimes it’s family sometimes is not even people outside your door that are putting up hurdles and obstacles to your success. So I had a lot of very good mentors.
[00:17:44] And mentors are a great and that they encourage you sometimes they can point out things that you aren’t seeing. In your way, I can give you advice on how to get around those hurdles, so I think that’s what I feel. Not stopping. There were so many times I could have. He probably should have stopped, but I didn’t, and that’s where I am, what I am today, where I am today and able to help other people get there, too. So another thing that I. Was inherent in me because my parents as to help others. To me, you can’t succeed unless other people succeed. With you so world’s best connectors as a collective group, we’re helping each other. Reach a higher point, as well as helping executives outside our group, so the more hands you can put up to help other people up, the better and more satisfied, the more successful you’re going to be.
[00:18:52] Interesting, a lot of crimes wondering how far to. Or you could just help others. A lot of times that annoying to us helping us to do whatever it was like at that time.
[00:19:06] Yeah, and sometimes it doesn’t hit you right away, but. I as an example, last month, well, beginning of this month, actually, I volunteered at a football stadium where we have NFL Stadium, which was one of the first to turn into a vaccine center. So ironically, I helped build that stadium. I was on the original board that created that stadium. And so something in me, I want to see what’s going on at the stadium. OK, I’m going to volunteer to go see what’s over there at the stadium. So I didn’t really know what to expect. And in fact, I was pretty pessimistic because of how the whole covid thing has been going so far, hasn’t been very efficient or effective. So I went over there and it was an eight hour shift, which is pretty intense, actually, and especially if you’ve been.
[00:19:59] Sitting in front of a computer for a year after three rounds, so suddenly you’re out there, you have to talk to all these people and it’s eight hours or so.
[00:20:14] But what it brought back to me the satisfaction of helping people, because I don’t know so much negativity around covid and which I should be obviously cause so much pain and hurt.
[00:20:28] But to be there at the stadium, the people getting their vaccines, you got a whole different vibe. It was. People are so happy, there was so relieved. They were so excited about this possibility of recovery or possibility of becoming immune to this, it was a whole different thing.
[00:20:53] I’m grateful and business, you know, you don’t get too many boys out of girls and business. You get a complaint. Speaking of social media, you get a lot of complaints.
[00:21:07] You know, you can be helped to death or something here. And it was just people. The thank you’s. Thank God you’re here. We so appreciate what you’re doing constantly over and over. Yeah, I was. Really eye opening and inspiring, so sometimes it’s mentioned volunteering and something that I didn’t have that positive attitude when I went into it as far as how well it was going to go. Plus, it was super efficient. Operation were running, you know, thousands of cars were there 24/7 vaccine center. So I was so impressed with that operation and had plenty of volunteers, so many people out there to help other people. It was very satisfying. So that’s what I that’s sort of how I look at it. Helping others can definitely help you.
[00:22:01] Best advice you’ve ever given, best advice, probably latest, the latest is the I charge for that out of state, a woman’s title from her talk, but because there’s a lot wrapped into that.
[00:22:18] You saying that you charge for something? Means, why do you have confidence in yourself that you have value, that what you’re going to do for someone has value?
[00:22:30] And you have the satisfaction out of making money, but people value what you do. So there are a lot of different angles and which that becomes very important. Yes, volunteerism is important, as I just mentioned, there’s a lot of positive things about volunteering out here to charities. OK, volunteer to people who really need it. People volunteering. Yes, volunteer. Your business is a whole different thing. And we just tend to want to be nice people. We want to be liked. But they’ll like you if you’re doing a good job as well, they’ll like it if they think they got their money’s worth from. So that’s sort of the way I look at it. And that’s the advice I give to people. Always ask for what you’re worth.
[00:23:20] Thank you for being with us today.
[00:23:23] Well, thank you, Virginia. This has been fun. I always enjoy talking to new people. I wish you success in your business.
[00:23:30] Thank you. How can people find out more about you and what you do?
[00:23:36] Thank you for asking. The website is w w w that t h, e, w, b, c, ask.com.
[00:23:45] So it’s the Web because we also have we’re on LinkedIn. And so you just need to search world’s best connectors on that one. We have Twitter, which is at its all more complicated. So at that world’s best conceal and one of the world’s best con one on Twitter and you can reach us on any of those and you can email me directly.
[00:24:10] I get a lot of that world’s best connectors at Gmail dot com. So that’s where people can get a hold of me and I’d love to hear from folks.
[00:24:19] Awesome. Well, thank you again for impact.
[00:24:24] Thanks, Regina. Best wishes to you and stay safe.
[00:24:28] Thank you to.
[00:24:36] Thank you so much for joining us today. Be sure to subscribe and leave some left through a review and I’ll get you on the next episode.
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