How She Got There: Meagan Hooper, Founder & CEO of bSmart Guide

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Name: Meagan Hooper
Age: 32
Job Title and Description:  Founder & CEO of bSmart Guide
College/Major: Wake Forest University/Theater
Website: bSmartGuide.com
Twitter Handle: @bSmartGuide and @MeaganHooper

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Meagan Hooper: After working in finance for 10 years running the operations of a hedge fund and wealth management firm, I launched my online community bSmartGuide.com. I created bSmart because I wanted to give aspirational millennial women a platform to learn from each other through sharing their best advice, creating meaningful relationships online as well as in-person, and promoting their brand, blog or business within an encouraging community.

I manage all marketing and editorial aspects of bSmart. I work with an incredibly talented team of women who plan our editorial calendar, execute our marketing and PR strategy and work with bloggers who source ideas for upcoming posts. I interview the women in our featured stories, select the brands we spotlight and work with our creative team on the styling concepts for our photo shoots, video interviews and post layout.

What is the best part of your job?

MH: The best part about my job is working with our talented team as well as meeting the inspiring women we profile. I’m extremely proud of every blog post we publish, every story we release and all of the ideas that go into creating our features. Because our site has a community component, we’re able to interact with our members in multiple ways to find out how the site is impacting them and what they need from our content and community. That’s probably my favorite part of running bSmart.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

MH: Ironically, I landed my first job in finance from babysitting. When I graduated college, I didn’t have any connections or job prospects in New York, so I would tell everyone I met that I was looking for a job and I was sure I could be helpful to that company (I was desperate for a job!). I shared this with a family I was babysitting for in New York and the dad said they were in need of some administrative help at his hedge fund and so I got the job!

I learned anything and everything I could about finance and operations and eventually became the Chief Operating Officer for that firm and then helped launch the operations for a wealth management firm. If you’re looking for a job, my advice is to tell everyone you know (even if you just met them) and then make the most of every opportunity you’re given—no matter how small—as it can lead to a big career.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

MH: The number one lesson I’ve learned over the last 10 years is how important it is to create a network and promote yourself—to be your own advocate. From my time working in finance, it became clear to me that women put their heads down and work extremely hard, but they don’t ask for things (raises, promotions or more responsibility) and therefore they don’t get. That’s why I created bSmartGuide.com to be a platform for women to share advice about how to be successful, create a network for meeting other women in their industry and be a place to promote your brand, blog, or business.

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?

MH: I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a mentor at my first hedge fund who saw potential in me before I saw it in myself. I think that’s the key to being successful—spending time with someone who believes in you and your potential. Whether it’s a friend your same age or someone older than you, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you before you believe in yourself is tremendously important.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

MH: One of my biggest mistakes I made early in my career was not asking for help when I needed it because I thought it would be perceived as failure. Asking for help is actually what’s made me successful over time. My advice is to own what you don’t know and own your mistakes immediately. Embrace those times of feeling inadequate because they’re helping you achieve perfection a little bit faster.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

MH: Being interviewed by Fox Business as a millennial expert on technology, education, and student debt was a pretty surreal moment, but honestly we’re honored every time a woman joins our community and is able to create a meaningful connection with someone else, promote her brand with our members and share her story or learn from our members.  I love our mission and those moments every day are what make me excited.

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

MH: I look for someone who is unique in her ideas and a risk taker. Content creation is an art and all great art comes from inner inspiration and taking a risk—not copying what someone else is doing. While every new idea might not work out, it’s important to try for those moments when you’re able to create a post or image that’s truly unique and beautiful. 

It’s also important to be willing to roll up your sleeves and do anything and everything (because I roll up my sleeves and do anything and everything every day) and to have a vision for the company you work for and your role in it

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

MH: As the adage states, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” If you have a dream or something you want to accomplish—a book you want to write or a website you want to create—you’ll get there by working at it little by little every day over a long period of time. Most likely it will take longer than you thought to reach your goal—so the secret to success is to just keep going and not give up!

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About The Author

Lily is a member of Wesleyan University's class of 2016, where she double majored in government and sociology. She's a writer, editor, and social media manager, as well as co-founder of The Prospect (www.theprospect.net), the world’s largest student-run college access organization. In addition to her work with Her Campus, she also serves in editorial roles at HelloFlo and The Muse.