From Doubt to Determination: How Did Margie Meacham Become The Brain Lady? 

Margie Meacham - From Doubt to Determination | Learningtogo | Enterprise Wired

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Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey is both exhilarating and daunting. It’s a path filled with uncertainty, risk, and countless decisions that can shape the trajectory of one’s business and life. Yet, for many, the allure of building something from the ground up, bringing their vision to life, and making a meaningful impact on the world outweighs the challenges ahead. 

Margie Meacham (Founder and Chief Freedom Officer of Learningtogo) is someone who thrives on working within reasonable deadlines. Even when tackling optional projects, she finds it beneficial to set deadlines for key milestones, enabling her to maintain accountability. When collaborating with clients, Margie ensures to present a comprehensive project plan outlining deadlines for all involved parties.

This approach not only fosters forward momentum but also aids in staying on course throughout the project. Due to dyslexia, it was difficult for her to keep up with her schoolwork, hence she learned these skills at a very early stage of her life. Furthermore, Margie acquired the knowledge of setting interim deadlines and milestones, so she wasn’t cramming for an exam the night before.

Discovering a Passion for Technology 

With the support of her family, especially her younger sister who helped unlock the world of reading, Margie not only caught up but thrived academically. This success carried her through high school and college, where she graduated with honors. However, practical considerations led her to pursue secretarial training as a backup plan to college and soon led to a part-time job as a word processor.

Discovering a passion for technology through her work, Margie seized an opportunity in sales, initially intending it as a temporary stint while she finished her teaching degree. Yet, she found parallels between selling and teaching, realizing the importance of educating customers to make informed decisions. Excelling in sales, she transitioned into sales training, instinctively applying principles of education that would become central to her career.

Quest for Fulfillment 

Despite climbing the corporate ladder, Margie felt a pull toward her true passion: helping others learn. Transitioning to consulting, she found fulfillment in empowering organizations through learning initiatives. A pivotal moment came when her musings on intelligence and technology garnered national attention, leading to speaking engagements and the successful launch of her g her first book, Brain Matters: How to help anyone learn anything using neuroscience.

Reflecting on her journey, Margie sees a cohesive narrative emerging—a progression driven by her unique blend of experiences and interests. What may have seemed like disparate career moves were, in fact, integral steps toward realizing her purpose: leveraging science and technology to facilitate learning and growth.

Now deeply immersed in applying insights from neuroscience and AI to design personalized learning experiences and coaching tools for organizations, Margie aims to bridge the gap between cutting-edge research and practical applications. Her work draws on her educational journey and passion for empowering others. Margie’s path, though winding, has led her to a profound realization of her unique contribution—a journey guided by perseverance, curiosity, and a commitment to making a difference. Margie demonstrates the practical results of her work for her clients in her second book, AI in Talent Development: Capitalize on the AI Revolution to Transform the Way You Work, Learn, and Live.

In Pursuit of Integrity

Early in her career, Margie was tasked with overseeing a sales training vendor for her employer. Her boss explicitly instructed her to become proficient enough in the program to conduct the training independently, so that the company could cease payments to the vendor. Margie was taken aback by this directive but responded without hesitation. She respectfully declined, expressing her conviction that her boss didn’t truly mean what he had said. After a moment of reflection, they both resumed their roles without compromising the vendor’s content integrity. However, Margie began seeking alternative employment opportunities the following day.

Margie envisions a future where humans and smart machines seamlessly coexist, utilizing their combined talents to enhance the world by accelerating learning and supporting performance. Although initially met with skepticism, recent advancements in AI have led Margie’s stakeholders and clients to acknowledge the significance of mastering AI in their respective fields. However, she cautions that smart machines don’t have a moral compass – integrity and fairness must come from the humans who build and monitor these exciting new tools.

Authentic Leadership in the Age of Technology

The most significant decision Margie made for her career was to depart from her secure corporate training position to establish her own consulting company. For a company of its size, Learningtogo is somewhat unconventional, operating without any employees except Margie. Instead, she perceives herself as a pioneer in her domain. She embarks on a mission to assist her peers in navigating the Age of AI, aiming to integrate these potent tools to expedite learning processes and streamline content creation for educational purposes. She partners with like-minded experts on individual projects, keeping her organization lean and agile in a constantly changing marketplace.

Margie believes her fundamental principles are likely to resonate with individuals in leadership roles:

  • Commitment to authenticity: She advocates for sincerity in all endeavors, cautioning against the temptation to echo sentiments solely to appease superiors or teams if they do not align with personal beliefs.
  • Fulfillment of promises: She emphasizes the importance of following through on commitments and delivering results promptly or even ahead of schedule.
  • Prioritizing listening: She underscores the significance of active listening before engaging in dialogue, recognizing its role in fostering effective communication and understanding. This last principle even applies to her with artificial intelligence. “I’ve learned a lot about how these models work by observing their responses to my prompts.”

Staying Ahead in AI

In alignment with her dedication to authenticity, Margie adopts a transparent approach to her work processes. She utilizes the same AI tools she teaches about in her classes to produce her work products. Recently, she created an entire online course using a text-to-video tool instead of traditional production methods. Margie also integrated her workflow into the course content, allowing students to observe firsthand how the videos were produced. The result is her innovative public course on Teachable, on AI for Education and Training, featuring a mix of content produced by generative AI and live updates delivered by Margie.

As a prominent figure in the field of AI, Margie dedicates a substantial portion of her daily work hours to staying abreast of developments. She engages in regular discussions with colleagues, peruses research papers, and reviews newsletters to discern emerging trends and potential opportunities for her clients and students. Given the vast amount of information to sift through, Margie frequently employs an AI “assistant” to assist in summarizing articles and pinpointing noteworthy trends.

Communication at the Heart of Everything

Margie dedicates about half of her day to communication tasks. However, she reserves her most productive time to create new materials and forge new partnerships, leading to AI courses with LinkedIn Learning and the Association of Talent Development. She initiates and concludes her daily routine with emails and social media engagements. So far, this is one area of her work where she avoids using an AI assistant. “If someone reaches out to me, I want them to hear back from me – not an algorithm’s response,” she says. 

Her proficiency in clear, evidence-based writing plays a pivotal role in responding to clients, investigating potential opportunities, or disseminating fresh research within her communities on X and LinkedIn. Margie spends several hours conversing with clients via phone or screen, underscoring the significance of communication in her professional endeavors.

Benefiting from a robust education that prioritized critical thinking and articulate expression, Margie relies on these skills extensively in her daily pursuits. “Generative AI can help you catch errors and clean up your grammar, but if try to write a book or article with these tools, you’ll produce only average results. I prefer to write in my voice, even though I may get a little bit of helpful criticism from my AI assistants.”

Strategies for Success

Margie Meacham believes she has a mission to share her knowledge with others in her field, so she gladly accepts calls from those just starting. Frequently, these individuals approach her with a request that seems to echo similar sentiments from various sources: “I’d like to pick your brain about my career and learn from your experience.” Despite this common refrain, she agrees to 30-minute meetings.

However, she notes that while some of these discussions prove genuinely beneficial for both parties, many are primarily focused on seeking a quick fix or wishing for instant replication of her success. In response, Margie Meacham adheres to her principle of authenticity. She guides these individuals through the significant steps she took to reach her current position, emphasizing the importance of education, work experience, ongoing learning, and experimentation.

Furthermore, she encourages her potential mentees to reflect deeply on their passions, cautioning them that achieving their aspirations will demand significant effort and dedication. “I’m always available to support someone who is looking for advice, but I won’t do their work for them. For some, that’s a hard message to hear.”

Innovation Over Stability

Margie Meacham finds herself in a fortunate position, devoid of employees except for her dog, Koala, whom she affectionately refers to as her assistant, albeit a quiet one. This mindset granted her the flexibility to pivot her business model last year. Initially focused on designing corporate training with a side venture into AI-enabled chatbots, Margie transitioned to a company with an acclaimed solution utilizing AI to expedite learning and enhance performance.

Her Brainybots product line features “semi-custom” automated agents to prompt critical thinking, remind learners of action items, and deliver assessments have garnered several awards and are giving her clients a simple, affordable way to accelerate learning with personalized AI-driven experiences.

Having crafted her first chatbot in 2015 and recognizing the potential of AI in learning and development (L&D) years ago, Margie Meacham found the pivot relatively seamless once she deemed the market ripe for such a transition.

Blueprint for Personal and Professional Growth

Since Margie Meacham operates without employees, let’s delve into how she ensures her long-term success through personal growth and professional development.

Margie Meacham dedicates at least two hours every week to learning something new. Additionally, she relies on established professional organizations for networking and ongoing education. Margie holds membership in ATD, SHRM, The Guild, TLDC, and numerous other L&D organizations.

To further her growth, Margie Meacham attends professional conferences to glean insights from others in the field. She makes a concerted effort to follow up with individuals doing noteworthy work, fostering personal connections along the way.

Furthermore, Margie Meacham actively seeks out potential business partners with whom she can collaborate to effect positive change in the world.

Wisdom for Leadership Success

Looking back, Margie can now discern a clear path that extends from her initial job in technology to her current position. However, amidst the daily challenges, this path often seemed elusive. She relies on her instincts and values to guide her forward.

For those aspiring to leadership in business, Margie Meacham emphasizes the importance of introspection. It’s essential to contemplate why one seeks leadership roles. While fame, influence, or wealth may be enticing, true impact on others’ lives requires dedication to hard work, humility, continuous learning, and authenticity. She acknowledges that this journey is lifelong but believes it is immensely rewarding.

Her final words of advice are these, “Be careful not to accept a definition of success that has been handed to you by others. There are many ways to lead, and most of them can be found outside of a traditional corporate framework.”

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