As promised, here is the first in what I expect to be a long series of conversations with my real-life heroes. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by people who inspired me to do great things. I know you could learn a lot from them, too, and, more importantly, I’d like to just give them a moment to shine.
So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Meghan Arnold. Well, I would introduce you if you didn’t know her already. I swear this girl knows EVERYONE! The reason I choose Meghan to be my first hero is because she truly takes the bull by the horns. Here’s the paragraph I wrote about her when I requested this interview:
“I want to be you when I grow up because: You dive in, head-first no matter what the situation. I picture a party with locally-sourced lychee hydrangea martinis, spam appetizers, and domesticated monkeys tap-dancing to Beatles music and you thinking “well, when in Rome…” At the same time, while you experience whatever life hands you, when a goal grabs you by the “I wants”, you stick with it until the goal is achieved. In short, I think your life is a sitcom, but one whose seasons are scripted all the way threw in one shot.”
Ladies and gentlemen, Meghan Arnold…
1. Why do you think I nominated you to be the first “hero” on my list?
Because you watched me transition from a person who could have stayed stuck in an okay-but-not-great life to someone who set out to achieve her dream. You saw me transform myself physically in a short amount of time, then apply the same principles to moving to my dream city. Am I in the ballpark? (Ed. Note – right on Meghan!)
2. Who do you want to be when you grow up? Are you this person yet?
I want to create positive change in the world and not be afraid to take risks to do so. I suppose in a small way, yes, I am this person, but of course I want to go bigger. This isn’t a task you can just check off. You have to keep doing it every single day. Forever. And you have to inspire other people to undertake this task. I know it’s cliche, but the Gandhi standby “Be the change you wish to see in the world” is truly a guiding principle for me.
3. What is your favorite part of your life?
Waking up every morning in San Francisco, California. Being able to walk 10 minutes through Buena Vista Park and see my city, the bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the Golden Gate laid out in front of me. It’s hard not to be inspired by the mix of natural and man-made beauty. Then going online and getting inspired by a news feed full of the incredibly talented, creative and giving individuals I’m proud to call my friends, family and colleagues.
4. What’s missing from your life?
Teleportation. That would seriously help me on so many levels. Mainly because a) I love to travel and it would make getting places hella easier and b) I have friends and loved ones across the globe who I would love to be there for more often than I can.
5. What is the biggest secret to your success?
Realizing (and embracing) the fact that the worst anyone can ever say is “no.” It’s freeing to accept that you don’t have control over the universe or other’s actions. Took a lot of yoga to get to this!
6. What was harder for you to accomplish than you expected?
Moving to San Francisco! Everyone thinks it was so easy because the final push took about 3 months, but it was a dream I’d had since I was 10 years old. I had to live a pretty full life up until that point to be prepared to make the leap. I’m so glad I was a fully-formed individual before I moved here and took my current job. It’s made me both appreciate this city more as well as be able to give my fullest to my company and the organizations with which I volunteer. There’s also no way I could’ve done this alone. It took a huge network of people from high school besties to former clients to social media contacts to provide me with the tools to make the final push.
7. What comes easiest to you? Does this help or hinder your awesomeness?
Being passionate. I guess whether it helps or hinders depends on if you’re in my warpath or on my team. Ha ha. I mostly mean that if I have an interest I throw myself into it fully. Why go through life as a robot?
8. Have you had the same goal(s) your whole life or do they change? If they change, how often?
Having accomplished my life goal of moving to the Bay Area in 2011, the next one is to take a year off and travel before I’m 40. BUT I always make a list of goals on my birthday to guide me for the next year. Excited to dive into the 33 by 34 list! I definitely couldn’t get through these without having adventurous friends onboard to help out.
9. “Heroes… They are just like us.” Tell me something you do just like everyone else.
I spend quality time at the laundromat each week. Luckily there’s WiFi from the coffee shop next door so I can multitask.
10. Who are your heroes?
My #1 hero is my grandma, Dorothy Arnold, who has always inspired me. She’s faced so much adversity in her life, but always has the most positive outlook. When I was a kid I remember her being involved in everything from social clubs to the chamber of commerce. Even though she’s now an octogenarian and long-retired, her schedule is still one that would make a thirty-something want to take a nap!
A peer-o (see what I did there?) is my friend Ritu Sharma. Ritu and I were partnered up through the Milwaukee Mosaic Program in 2008. Her drive and determination is daunting. She beat me to San Francisco when she bought a one-way ticket out here with a couple of suitcases and just as many connections. Yet, she’s now an Executive Director of a successful non-profit conference series (Social Media for Non-Profits) and an asset to the Bay Area. I was delighted to travel to her hometown in India last year to celebrate her wedding and meet her family.
Many thanks to Meghan for taking the time to complete this interview. Don’t you feel inspired to go do something now?!?