When Inesha and I started this blog 2 years ago, we had the grand ol’ idea of putting a banner at the top with the tagline “Making it happen.” We didn’t take too much time then to explain or clarify or place caveats on that statement. This was also well before the “Can women have it all?” debate really grew wings and took off. But recently, as I was sitting in a seat among Glamour Magazine’s 2014 class of Top 10 College Women (an experience that definitely hit a different level of surreal), I got to thinking about exactly what had possessed Inesha and I to use these particular words. What, exactly, was “it” that we were trying to make happen anyway? It’s a deceptively simple sounding question that is particularly terrifying to answer, especially for the soon-to-be college seniors that my sister and I now are. But, when I’m searching for answers, I find that my choice means of journeying hasn’t changed much since my Kindergarten days–even though the genre may have changed, I still look first to draw comfort, advice, inspiration, and–yes, more questions–from stories.
When I first read Professor Kathleen Donegan‘s words about stories, I thought, she gets me. I love this quote from her:
For many years, if I wasn’t actually finding a story, stories were finding me. And losing me too. Some of those stories protected me, and some surprised me. Some I clung to, and some I fought fiercely. Many were not about me. Many were not even true but, believe me, the tangle was thick with them.
And returning to my seat in New York’s Lincoln Center last week, I was reminded of a particular set of stories that have gotten as close as I think possible to answering the “what is it?” question for me. It’s called Makers and the woman who started it all was sitting just feet away from me on Glamour’s stage.
“They call me relentless McGee,” Dyllan began with a broad smile.
Greta Gerwig, Gina Keatley, Dyllan McGee, and Colleen McGuinness serving as panelists for Glamour’s “How to Get Your Dream Job in 2014: Secrets of Success from Women Who Know” event
She was sharing a story about how Makers, the award-winning digital platform she founded, got its start. Lesson #1: be relentless and let the rejected ideas be the fodder for the good ones when you go back to the drawing board.
“I first pitched to Gloria Steinem that we would do a documentary on her life….as if she’d never heard that before!” said Dyllan. That got the crowd laughing. Clearly this was a woman who knew how to take her work seriously without taking life too seriously.
As is evidenced by the wild success of Dyllan’s groundbreaking online video collection (which showcases the stories of women such as Oprah, Marissa Mayer, and Christiane Amanpour, just to name a few), she didn’t give up. Gloria Steinem hadn’t wanted the story to be just about her, and so Dyllan went back to the drawing board with her team. She thought bigger and broader. She would share the stories of groundbreakers in many diverse fields and walks of life, she decided, and all in an effort to excite, inspire, and celebrate women who truly make America. This was more than a story about Gloria Steinem. It was the story about legions of women who knew just that, how to be relentless in pursuing something bigger than themselves.
When Dyllan McGee first introduced herself at the panel that day, I hadn’t yet had a glimpse of the incredible amount of energy and dynamism that would spill forth from her during the conversations we shared both on and off the stage. It’s incredible to think that we first wrote about Makers on this blog nearly two years ago, and almost a week ago today, Inesha and I were sitting face-to-face with the woman who started it all.
So, I’ll be honest. I couldn’t give you any one “it” that my sister and I and the many other incredible women we met at Glamour’s event are trying to make happen (because in many cases, there is far more than one), but Makers does provide a useful guide to just how unique and incredible the definition of that one syllable word can be.
And at least one thing’s for sure–last week Dyllan McGee shared with us her story of how to make relentless happen.
And after that is when the real magic begins.