Inspirational Female Leaders Series #8~ Meral Arik

Meral Arik-(10).png

Meral Arik is a Founding Team Member at Hello Chava and Founder of DOER Society.

Besides her full time gig at Hello Chava, (a virtual phone line with built-in automation for things like scheduling-over-text and text message marketing) Meral is the founder of DOER Society, a community of entrepreneurial women dedicated to supporting each other.

She jokes on her instagram that she works ALL THE TIME, but secretly loves it and wouldn't have it any other way.

Her #1 piece of advice for feeling overwhelmed is to “PRIORITIZE” and “remind myself that I don’t need to - and shouldn’t try to - do everything on my neverending to-do list “right now.”

WHAT KIND OF PROBLEM IS HelloChava SOLVING?

All the work I do is all about empowering and creating access for entrepreneurs. My startup, Hello Chava, is using technology to empower the rising cohort of independent professionals and the “business of one.” I’m also the founder of a community of entrepreneurial women called DOER Society. I firmly believe there’s never been a better time to democratize resources and lift each other up through genuine connections.

WHAT DID THOSE FIRST STEPS LOOK/FEEL LIKE? (FOR EXAMPLE: THE FIRST 6 MONTHS)

The early days of starting a startup are a hustle and a grind. The key is to try to get as much insight as you can as quickly as possible. Think: lots of testing/learning, and failing fast and often.

Before my team built the first version of Hello Chava, we came up with hypotheses of how to add the most value to our customers- and we tested those hypotheses by using wireframes and even pretending to be the software we’d eventually build.

My team and I used accumulated learnings from those early experiments to build Hello Chava into the product it is today.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO YOUR CAREER SUCCESS?

From working at a Mark Cuban company in college to currently being a Founding Team Member at Hello Chava and Founder of DOER Society, the biggest contribution to my career success has been my ability to build a network. More specifically, it’s been my ability to connect with people on and offline, to use my network to find opportunities, and to emulate the behaviors of people I wanted to be like along the way.

 That said, I know that networking doesn’t come as easily for others, and that’s why I started DOER Society. Even in the short time that DOER Society has been around, DOERs have formed connections and collaborations, received and given timely and priceless advice, and have shared tools, life hacks, and best practices with one another. This growing community is taking on a life of its own- and members are really making a difference in each others’ professional (and personal) lives.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FAILURE? WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN?

 I love Winston Churchill’s quote, “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been starting small businesses, all of which, in hindsight, have been “failures” in the traditional sense of the word. Of those, my favorite failure was an EDM ticketing company I started during my time at UCLA. I lost lots of time and money on that business, but I gained invaluable perspective and progress in my career. I got a “real-world” head start on learning my strengths/weaknesses, how (and how not to) build a solid team, and how to understand your market and users.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP? OR, WHAT DOES BEING A LEADER MEAN TO YOU?

Leaders inspire change. They set direction, guide people, and help people see their own full potential along the way.

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT ACQUIRING ONE?

I’ve been lucky to have amazing mentors throughout the course of my life and career, to date. These mentors have come in the forms of bosses, colleagues, friends, and family members.

I’d love to give a shoutout to my current mentor and Hello Chava co-founder, Isaac. Isaac has helped me with everything from structuring my thinking to planning and prioritizing more effectively. He’s also been a huge supporter of DOER Society from day 1- I wouldn’t have been able to launch and run the community without his wisdom, guidance and support!

WHAT SHOULD WOMEN BE DOING MORE OF TO FOSTER LEADERSHIP SKILLS?

Women should continue to be excellent. We are leaders already and we HAVE the leadership skills the market requires today. So, that means we should support and join organizations that are fully committed to paying, promoting, and establishing women in leadership roles. And if a door doesn’t open, we should build houses with as many doors and windows as we’d like.

HAVE YOU EVER FELT IMPOSTER SYNDROME, AND HOW DID YOU COMBAT IT?

To be honest, I feel imposter syndrome every single day. It’s hard not to when I’m surrounded by so many incredible people! That said, I think there are ways to combat its negative effects. I’ll share a recent example:

A few weeks ago, I was approached to mentor founders of tech companies at the Google Launchpad Female Founders Summit. Despite everything I’ve accomplished, to date, my first thoughts were, “They must think I know a lot more than I do. There’s no way I’m qualified.” But thanks to my team’s encouragement, I decided to go for it anyways.

Fast forward to the event, and one by one, brilliant women from all fields and stages of their entrepreneurial careers sat down with me and asked for my opinions and guidance- on topics I realized I actually did know a thing or two about! I was able to provide them with perspectives on product/market fit, user acquisition, digital marketing, and growth- and I was able to point them to resources when I didn’t have the answers. I am proud to say that I walked out with a ton more confidence than I walked in with- and I realized that I WAS qualified to be there in the first place.

 Ditching the imposter syndrome is easier said than done (I’m still working on it!), but I think the formula is as follows: Celebrate your wins, own your expertise, and stop comparing yourself to others. Remember that you didn’t just “get lucky” with each of your successes-- you deserve to be where you are. Remind yourself of these things over and over until you believe them.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE FEELING "OVERWHELMED"?

PRIORITIZE.

As an ambitious entrepreneur with endless dreams, ideas, and ambitions, I often feel like I’m not doing enough, good enough, fast enough, etc. As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time feeling overwhelmed, as a result.

To combat these feelings, I try to regularly step back and remind myself that I don’t need to - and shouldn’t try to - do everything on my neverending to-do list “right now.” Instead, I ask myself the question: “what are the one or two things I *actually* need to get done today?” This exercise reminds me to focus my time on the tasks that will have the greatest impact- and it reminds me that I am in control of my work, my life, and my attitude.

WHAT IS ONE QUOTE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY?

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” -Oscar Wilde”

What are you reading right now?

 I wish I had a good answer for this, but lately I’ve been spending most of my days in front of screens so I’ve been consuming wisdom by way of podcast. My favorites these days are The Tim Ferriss Show and Tribe of Mentors!

IF YOU HAD ONE TIP OR LIFE ADVICE, OR MANTRA TO SHARE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? 

Work hard & be nice.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO INCLUDE: 

 I’d love to invite you all to check out Hello Chava! Our flagship product is a virtual phone line with built-in automation for things like scheduling-over-text and text message marketing. If you want to modernize your business communications give Hello Chava a try - you’ll love it!

Also, let's keep in touch! Find me on Instagram (@my.startuplife), and check out DOER Society on Instagram, Facebook, and our website.

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