Kate Gremillion is Founder & CEO of Mavenly + Co., a community providing tools and resources for women to have honest conversations about creating career and lifestyle with purpose. Kate has worked with young women across the country through group workshops, corporate training and private coaching to equip them with the resources and mindset they need to pursue work that works for them. She’s the host the weekly Women, Work, and Worth podcast on iTunes, and her insight and advice has been featured in Forbes, Fortune, Brit+Co., and HerAgenda.
How did you get to where you are today?
It all started with me sitting inside my coffin…I mean cubicle.
You see, in college, I was the student with all the internships, extracurricular activities, extra classes and meetings in my planner. I was a communications major so I thought the natural next step was to work at a PR firm, which seemed glamorous to me at the time.
Before I started applying to PR “big girl” jobs, I was offered a position traveling the country with my sorority, Delta Gamma. The position had a one-year term limit at the time, so I thought it would be a great way to see the country before eventually finding a “real job” in PR. I was in a new city every week working with college women, and while the travel was draining, I truly felt alive. I felt like my work had purpose. But that was the problem. I was having such a good time that I didn’t see it as work at all, so naturally it could never be a career for me. That thought was silly.
So I ended my year as a consultant and grabbed a pencil skirt and a job at a large PR firm with huge clients. This was it. All my work in college led to this.
And it was terribly disappointing. I felt like a failure, and even worse, I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone about it because how do you tell your family or friends that you just spend $80,000 on an education and you hate what you do? I thought I couldn’t.
So I solved the problem the only way I knew how after spending my whole life in school: research. I made coffee date after coffee date with women who I thought loved their jobs and asked them very specific questions including having them break down their day in 30-minute increments. I needed real answers.
I learned so much in those talks. I learned that most often, women like their jobs because of the context and environment and not necessarily the content they were working on. The felt purpose in their work and they created habits that made their work meaningful on a regular basis.
I started sharing this information with my girlfriends and I realized one by one that most of my friends were having the same feelings of emptiness and lack of direction. That’s when I decided I needed to share the information I was receiving with others so they would have a place to go when they wanted to find a life of meaning and fulfillment.
And here we are.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
I think the paralysis that accompanies a failed dream or a dream-turned-disaster was the hardest obstacle. When you prepare to do something for years and then come to the realization you don’t actually want to do it, you lose a piece of yourself or a sense of self and it’s incrediblychallenging.
I had to learn how to invest my identity capital in my traits, values, and person strengths rather than external titles or resume lines. It was a complete mindset shift when I went from Kate the PR Professional to Kate the solver of problems and teller of stories. No one could take that from me and it was a piece of identity I could control.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
We’re never short on motivation at Mavenly + Co. because of the amazing women that surround us in our community. It’s like inspiration station over here, and you can’t help but want to get up and do something productive.
Now focus? Sometimes that’s a struggle. There’s so much we want to do, but when we try to do everything we actually end up doing nothing. Working on that!
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Time is the only luxury.
This realization CHANGED MY LIFE. Truly. I could make more money, I could get more things, but time is a nonrenewable resource. When I came to this conclusion I totally restructured my time to say ‘yes’ to the things that mattered and ‘no’ to the ones that didn’t.
What advice do you have for another person who is looking to get into your field, specifically?
Building a community is about listening to it. You might have an idea of what you want to put into the word, but if your focus is on community creation, you have to listen.
How do we get more women leaders?
By lifting up the women around you. You solve big problems by solving little problems with consistency. The single most important factor in my leadership development was watching other great leaders lead. When someone sends the elevator down for you, you should send it down for others.