Meet a Ladderburner: Megan Schueller
When someone’s intention is to bring meaning and purpose to their life, they know what they are up against. They don’t overthink it. They act with certainty and commitment. Megan is that type of person. She focuses on what she can control and brings her compassionate, powerhouse self to the table, every table. Work. Community. You name it.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on these career lessons and insights from Megan. Keep reading! You won’t regret it.
Q: Megan, you shared with us how you challenge yourself to break down unconscious gender bias by showcasing what you are capable of in a way that can’t be ignored. What does that look like for you?
Being a woman in an industry primarily dominated by men is only a roadblock if you let it be.
I begin each day by challenging myself to present my strongest front to my team in the form of being prepared, organized, and knowledgeable. I throw myself into my work head-on and don’t back down when I need to take on tasks that seem intimidating. I don’t think about my gender when reaching for my goals which makes it a non-issue to those I work with.
If I could sit down with my younger self, I would say to leave gender at home and only bring your best self to work each day. Focusing on our differences only gives power to them, so focus on what you can control and what will make you stronger instead.
Q: You also mentioned an ongoing challenge as a Ladderburner is acknowledging the strength of your voice in conversations – sharing that “strong voices can simultaneously spark the best ideas and crush them.” Tell us more about that.
My father likes to say that I started talking at age 1 and haven’t stopped since then so I have been aware of my strong voice for most of my life.
It took a lot of years and the support of multiple mentors to truly understand what that meant for me and the responsibilities that come with it. The following learnings along the way have helped:
- I have had the benefit of workplace development resources that have provided tools to highlight how a strong voice can be utilized to generate inspiration as well as how it can intimidate quieter voices.
- I have learned to be conscious of the strength of my voice in every conversation and to identify the personalities of others I’m with. I can modify my interactions to support them.
- If I am in a meeting with team members who fall into the shy, nurturer tendencies, I will let them speak first and use positive reinforcement to encourage them to share their thoughts.
- If I’m meeting with a fellow vocal, pioneer personality, I know I can let down my walls and go toe-to-toe more openly.
Self-awareness and consideration for those you are working with go a long way to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to showcase their thoughts in a constructive way.
Q: How do you define success at work?
Success is when you go home feeling like at least once during your workday you made a positive impact on someone.
It only takes one impact each day to motivate you to come back the next day, whether that’s teaching them something, solving a problem, or giving encouragement to grow.
Q: Who is your go-to person or place for career and leadership advice?
The world is full of mentors if you open yourself to finding them.
I take guidance from anyone who demonstrates attributes that I respect. Usually, all it takes is an introduction and a handshake to find a new source of growth and leadership guidance.
Q: Who has been the most interesting and interested person you have known or worked with in your career so far?
I had a mentor early in my career that did not see titles as barriers to building relationships.
While she was many, many levels above me in rank, she saw me for who I was and built a personal relationship with me that made me feel valued and capable of anything. Jokes about avoiding Diet Coke from the vending machine turned into a lifelong friendship filled with encouragement and genuine celebrations for each other’s accomplishments.
Q: What role does work play in your overall identity?
My role extends beyond just my job and into my community.
We don’t check our strengths at the door going in or out of work. We need to share our skill set beyond day-to-day work tasks.
I apply my strengths outside of work through my passion for promoting the positive aspects of my local community. We often live in places without truly getting to know them, and I made the conscious choice to change that for myself a few years ago.
I am now involved with multiple non-profit organizations including The Fond du Lac County Historical Society, Young Professionals of Fond du Lac, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ruby’s Pantry, and many more.
Being able to bring the skills that I apply to my career to help build supportive agencies and value in my community gives me a sense of accomplishment that no paycheck could ever match.
Q: What’s your favorite aspect of Ladderburning?
There is no roadmap to your own destination because no one has been there yet.
Ladderburning is about creating your own path and not following the breadcrumbs of those who came before you. I love not knowing where my endpoint is because it means that there are infinite possibilities available to me as long as I’m willing to work for them.
Q: If you could spray paint your top career advice for everyone to see, what would it say?
“Don’t give up on the person you are becoming”
It only takes one bump to knock us off our path to self-development. Don’t ever give up on yourself because whenever you feel you are at your lowest, I can guarantee there is someone looking up to you and hoping that someday they will be as strong as you. Keep pushing for your goals no matter how big or small they may be.
Total Years at work:
Want to share your Ladderburning story?
- Learning Lab: 3 Questions to Answer Better than Your Job Description2 min. read Job descriptions are static, limited in their depth and true day-to-day application.
- Learning Lab: Job Clarity3 min. read Grab a highlighter, 6 post-it notes, and your job description. Mark it up.
- Learning Lab: Redefine Career Success3 min. read Many – if not most people – measure career success by how far up they’ve climbed the ladder. They measure it with “more.”