Meral Arik is the founder of DOER Society, an entrepreneurial community for women. She firmly believes that real, shared experiences are the best way to improve and scale mentorship - a resource that is scarce for women in the workplace.
What company do you work for? What is your position there?
I am a founding team member of Chava, a B-Corp and technology startup using AI to power client relationships for solo entrepreneurs. Our product, Hello Chava, gives users a 2nd phone number for their smartphone that can be used as a professional or work number. I currently lead our User Acquisition and Research efforts.
I am also founder of DOER Society, an entrepreneurial community for women.
Get a behind the scenes look into my daily life through my Instagram, @my.startuplife!
What advice do you have for women who want to pursue leadership positions?
My advice for women who want to pursue leadership positions: Go for it.
For the women looking to grow into a leadership role in a company: Ask. Ask for more. Ask for more, more often than you think is appropriate. Ask to move into that leadership role. Find allies who can coach you and push with you- both within or outside of your company (DOER Society could be a great resource for this!). I think very few organizations naturally demonstrate pure meritocracy, so it’s important to understand and proactively work against biases - you’d be surprised what doors open just by knocking.
And don’t get discouraged by the first “no.” When you ask for something like moving up into a leadership position, usually people have a biased first response- one that involves resistance and excuses- even if they don’t necessarily believe or mean that completely. Instead of being disappointed and giving up, and instead of taking their first response as the truth, try to understand why they said it. Was it a script they were supposed to say? Was it just a nervous reaction? Empathize with them so you can work with them to find the better answer. And remember that if you don’t ask in the first place, you’re allowing the biases that exist to determine your future.
If the infrastructure you’re working in still doesn’t allow for you to pursue a leadership position- then you have a few options: make a decision to fight against your existing infrastructure and become a leader for change, invest in building your expertise and leadership experience outside of your current company, and/or build a side project or a company of your own.
Though women undoubtedly face unique challenges, I truly believe that any woman can be a leader.
Have you had to make any sacrifices in your personal life to achieve your professional success?
I absolutely love the work I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That said, I’ve definitely made a number of personal sacrifices in my pursuit of growing Chava & DOER Society. Most significantly, I would say I’ve given up a “normal” schedule and social life.
The demanding nature of entrepreneurship, combined with my natural “workaholic” tendencies, lead to me to spend the majority of my time working. I’ve had to turn down more social events this past year and a half than I can count, and several friendships of mine have suffered, as a result. This journey can definitely feel like a lonely one.
Nonetheless, I’m extremely fortunate to have a handful of best friends who continue to stay by my side- and I am incredibly thankful for DOER Society’s growing community of like-minded women who “get it” & “get me.” I always joke that I formed DOER Society as a way for me to make more friends who are equally ambitious and who are sympathetic to "the struggle" that comes with the pursuit of professional success!
What are ways you stay current? Do you have any favorite websites or podcasts?
I love participating in online communities who share news and best practices with one another (specifically, Facebook groups such DOER Society, Badass Marketers & Founders (BAMF), Female Founders Conference, etc.). With technology, platforms, and algorithms changing on a weekly basis, community is the best content when it comes to keeping current in the worlds of tech, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing.
I also really enjoy listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcasts (The Tim Ferriss Show, Tribe of Mentors) and watching Gary Vaynerchuk’s content on YouTube & Instagram. These guys might be a bit edgy at times, but they share some timeless content around mindset, productivity, and succeeding in business.