bSmartGuide.com Founder Meagan Hooper went from being COO of a successful hedge fund to teaching women how to rise in their careers as well.
Women have come a long way since many transitioned from wives and homemakers to entering the workforce in the 1950s. We are winning the game when it comes to entrepreneurship. Since 2015, more than 9.4 million firms have been owned by women, giving jobs to nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.5 trillion in sales. One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more are woman-owned and 2.9 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S. With these stats, it seems like women have everything under control. However, bSmartGuide.com Founder Meagan Hooper said women can use a mentor to guide us and offer encouragement to keep us going.
That is something Hooper felt she needed when starting out in her career. At bSmartGuide.com, she has created an online community of boss women looking to change the ratio of female decision-makers around the world through content, community, and market and help women become their best selves, both professionally and personally.
“There are more women graduating from college than men however they are still underrepresented in leadership positions as a whole,” Hooper said. “The reason we exist is because of these statistics and we aim to change that.”
Hooper knows first-hand what it is like be overlooked in the workplace. Leaving the south, the Wake Forest University graduate set her sights on the concrete jungle of New York City as an aspiring actress, finding a job as an executive assistant at Williamson McAcree Investment Partners.
I found the world of finance to be intimidating, like I didn’t belong, like I didn’t have the right education for it,” Hooper recalled. “I definitely had the imposter syndrome.”
Her theatre degree came in handy while on Wall Street. She used some of the techniques she learned in college, like playing with status and voice, to help her get by. With those techniques, she saw a major change in the way people reacted to her. “Even though I felt like an imposter on the inside, I noticed that people started treating me with respect, like I belonged, like I deserved to be there,” Hooper said. “They treated me like I was just as capable of doing the job as anyone else.” With that new respect came more responsibility, ultimately, climbing the corporate ladder and becoming chief operating officer.
With her rise to the top, Hooper learned that no matter where you come from or where you start off, if you behave in a certain way, people will respond to you. Basking in her new success, she noticed that the same success wasn’t happening as much for her female friends. With the many lessons she learned by becoming COO and her story being spread around, many of her friends and colleagues started coming to her for advice. The experience gave her the idea to develop a post-college guide for women just like her, giving birth to bSmartGuide.com. “Women on the site provide mentorship and a sense of community but, most importantly, we cheer you on,” Hooper said. “What I have learned about mentorship is that it doesn’t necessarily matter if someone has been there before you but they believe you are capable of your dreams.” With 1,800 women already participating in the online community, the bSmartGuide teams leans heavily on their thirteen core values, such as empowerment, growth and supportiveness, to inspire users to go in the right path as well as persevere in becoming their best selves in their choice of industry.
Having found success by being a mentor to others, Hooper shared some key tips on how women today can strut their stuff and be all that they can be, the first being to understand the history of corporate America. “Most industries were built on male leadership and the women being the assistant or caretakers, having the man being trained for success,” Hooper said. “What women need to understand about corporate culture is that there is always a gender role expectation.” Her second, and most honest, tip for women is to look in the mirror and ask these compelling questions: “Ask yourself what is your vision for your life,” Hooper said. “And then ask yourself, ‘if I were a guy, would that answer be any different?’”