Megan Berry, 27, is Head of Community and Social Product at RebelMouse. She previously led community and marketing at Klout, after joining as their fourth employee. She has blogged about community, product and influence for Mashable, The Huffington Post, Amex OPEN Forum, and Brazen Careerist. Megan graduated from Stanford Phi Beta Kappa.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My dad founded a small software company so I saw entrepreneurship first-hand growing up. He loved what he did and that was a big part of his success -- he was excited to wake up and do work each morning. It showed me how important that passion was to be a good entrepreneur and that became the standard I used for my own career.
For my eleventh birthday, I got my own domain name and promptly started to learn how to create a website. The site was focused around book reviews and I did my own html and flash intro animations (back when intro animations were cool). It won an award in a kids magazine and I started to get emails from other kids who were reading the books I recommended. That was when I realized the incredible power of the internet, that something I wrote could influence a kid around the world.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position at RebelMouse?
As a community manager at Mobclix in 2009, I witnessed two huge step changes happening in the industry. One was that social media was generating real revenues and influencing the bottom line. We tracked both the revenues my efforts in blogging and social brought back to Mobclix and it was significant for the company. I saw that this was not a fad but a permanent change to how business was being done. The second is the mobile revolution. Mobile was "hot" then, every brand trying to figure out their mobile strategy, now it's a given that mobile will be part of every digital decision a brand makes.
At Klout, I helped start our Klout Perks program, helping big brands reach the influencers who can convert their audiences. Social conversations are how we make buying decisions now and understanding how social influence works online has been incredibly helpful to my role building social product here at RebelMouse. With every feature we build we think about how we can help foster viral moments.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at RebelMouse?
It's been almost 3 years and it's FLOWN by. It's 100% the most rewarding experience of my career so far. There are millions of little moments that have made it so but I'll highlight a few that come to my mind today:
- When we first beta-launched in June 2012 and we saw people connect with the product and even love it. We were all glued to Twitter, living tweet to tweet as people shared their new RebelMouse sites.
- When TIME used us for their Person of the Year announcement that same year, curating tweets from huge stars with our technology.
- When The Dodo launched -- the first media company to be built entirely on RebelMouse technology.
- Meeting 3 of our international team members when I was in Croatia -- who each drove at least 10 hours from Serbia and Slovenia to come say hi and get a beer. We'd worked together for more than a year without ever meeting face to face.
- When MTV told us the fan site we built for them significantly outperformed their expectations
As for the challenges -- they come right before the big moments. For instance the days before The Dodo launched when we were racing to meet this deadline, the whole team working overtime to bring the site to life. So far each challenge has been well worth it!
What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
There's a great quote from My Fair Lady that comes to mind about Eliza: "she will listen very nicely, and then go out and do exactly what she wants." Not to say you always have to listen nicely :) but the point being as a founder you to seek out advice from everyone you trust. Everyone will have an opinion on your ideas and what you should do next, but your role as a founder is to synthesize that all and only let it influence you if it feels right to you. For any successful startup there are stories of someone who told the founder the company would never succeed.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
For me the most important piece was realizing that my best work can only happen when I have balance in my life. I'm a huge SoulCycle fanatic and I'll often leave work on the early side for a startup (5:30) for a workout and dinner and then get back to things. When I get back into the work I am refreshed, and more productive then if I had skipped the break. There also needs to be some nights and some weekends where you just check out and read a book, watch TV or hang out with friends. Once you internalize that rest is not optional and working more isn't always working better then the rest falls into place.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
There's not enough women in tech; it's simply a fact of our industry right now. When you are the only woman in a company or at a happy hour, it's easy for a small comment that otherwise wouldn't have been a big deal to make you feel out of place and unsure of what to do.
According to 'Girls Who Code', only 17% of Google and 15% of Facebook are women. At RebelMouse, the percentage of female employees is 35% across 11 countries around the world, and in the US, the percentage of women is more than 42%.
My advice to men working in tech is to keep in mind women are constantly thinking and dealing with this issue and to be supportive. Be the one who speaks up when someone makes sexist joke. Be an active supporter of women in tech, the industry will thank you.
As a woman in tech I try to make a point of helping other women and of leaning in as Sheryl Sandberg tells us to do. I also try to be aware and speak up about issues of women in tech because I think it's important that we talk about it so we can change it.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I am lucky to have a close family filled with mentors. My dad was the one who introduced me to computers and programming. My brother taught me how to use ColdFusion. My sisters read through many, many drafts of my college essay. My mom always pushed me to go after what I wanted, to not be afraid of failure and to keep chasing what I wanted. When I was deciding whether or not to make the switch from Mobclix to Klout it made an enormous difference to have people who not only listen to my hopes and fears, but to listen to them for the 10th time that day :) I wish for everyone to have such a devoted set of mentors.
I have also found mentors along the way in my career. Sumaya Kazi, CEO of Sumazi, taught me what community management back when she was one of the few people who knew. Joe Fernandez, CEO and Founder of Klout showed me a world of analytics around social influence and really let me shine in my role there, mentoring me through the challenges and allowing me to grow as the company did. Ken Lerer, Partner at Lerer Hippeau Ventures, has been a huge influence to me in my time here in New York. He taught me how to make a pitch and close a deal. He has an amazing eye for what will "work" and one day I hope to have even 10% of that ability.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Sheryl Sandberg for taking a stand on a controversial issue with her book, Lean In. She opened up a discussion we all really needed to have on women in tech and it opened her up to a lot of personal attacks and controversy but I think it's important for women in power to join this discussion and recognize the issue in the industry.
Sumaya Kazi of Sumazi, who mentored me early in my career. I admired how she always took the time to help me learn the thought process she was using to test what worked so I learned more than tactics but how to build social strategy.
Lastly, my sister, Sabrina Berry Parsons, who is a CEO and mom to three boys. I hope one day when I have kids I will have even half her ability to juggle a million things at once. She is also making her company a great place for women and parents to work, prioritizing work/life balance and allowing parents to occasionally bring their kids in wiht them to work.
What do you want RebelMouse to accomplish in the next year?
It's an incredibly hard question because there is SO MUCH on that list. Features we have planned, clients we are going to be working with and internal goals we want to hit. I think we have set ourself up for next year to be a year we really showcase the power of the platform, with stats across many brand and publisher sites to show how RebelMouse is helping them achieve step changes in their growth and user engagement. We measure our success in their success.
On a personal level, I just want to keep working with such an intelligent, agile, fun and kind team. I know that we can take any challenge we come to and get through it with a smile.