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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Lori Meakin

Lori Meakin is the Founder and CEO of The Others & Me, an award-winning strategist and entrepreneur who has worked with world-leading brands including Amazon, Google, Vue and the BBC. After taking time out to research and write her book ‘No More Menemies’, Lori now uses the behaviour-change expertise she’s developed over decades in advertising, branding and the media to address the issue: How can we get past the growing gender divisions and ‘menemies’ mindset, and build a world that works better for all of us?

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

Accelerating gender equality, including LGBTQIA+ inclusion, has always been something I’ve done outside the day job, and as pro bono work within my former companies. It’s something I’ve always used within my day-jobs in advertising/media/branding too, to serve all customers and audiences better, as women, who drive over 80% of consumer purchase decisions but are underestimated by most brands. Now I’ve created a business that puts that front and centre, and it’s a joy to spend all day, every day working to help businesses grow by looking at the world through a lens that’s not the default-male one that’s dominated for centuries.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

The murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa prompted me to know I had to do more to create change in the world. I was dragged from the street and by an aggressive sexual predator over 30 years ago, and as a rape survivor, I felt I had to do more to change the fact that when it comes to women’s safety, we’re going backwards. Researching and writing my book was step 1 – I needed to understand why men were becoming more anti-feminist, when all the evidence shows that gender equality benefits them too. And the realisation that businesses can do so much to help here, in the design of their products, services, experiences and content, gave me the idea to start an innovation consultancy helping businesses grow from solving these issues.

How did you achieve awareness?

The network of incredible women that I’ve built up over my years of working in gender inclusion in my spare time has been hugely helpful here, including brilliant women from WACL (Women in Advertising and Communications Leadership and City Women’s Network. And I’ve been actively getting out and using platforms and events that are often led by women and attended by women who want to create change too, like Karren Brady’s Women in Business & Tech Expo. And I’ve identified the influential men in my network too who want to see change but don’t always feel confident in how best to do that. It’s so important to ask for help from people who really care about what you do, without making the asks too onerous or exploiting their goodwill.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

I’ve used the assets I’ve accumulated across three decades in business and am backing myself. It’s important to me that I put my money where my mouth is. If I don’t invest in and back this vision, how can I expect my clients to?

What are the key successes?

Getting incredibly positive feedback we’ve got from clients. Being called “a phenomenal force of good, peeling back the myths and stereotypes” is brilliant, but better yet is how that’s followed up with an acknowledgement that it helped us “look at the world differently and create a competitive edge.” Success for us is clients gaining business advantage through our work.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

It’s a tough economic climate so we’re having to strongly make the business case for our work. And I’ve had to curb my impatience/energy and know that things often take longer to come to fruition than I sometimes expect. But maintaining that core purpose but being flexible around how you deliver it has been key.

What are your plans now/for the future?

To keep building, learning, growing, including into other territories that share the same issues, such as the US and Australia.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

Be really clear about your personal and business purpose. Why are you doing it? (you’ll need that to stay resilient in tough times). And why do your clients need it? (You can’t grow a business without that!)

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Surround yourself with brilliant people who share your vision and that you can learn from. I have that in my brilliant team, in my incredibly supportive family, and in friends and mentors in all kinds of businesses.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – for her wisdom in so many areas

Reese Witherspoon – for creating a company telling women’s stories

Jody Comer – for Killing Eve and Prima Facie

My daughters – for being a vision of the future that gives me hope

Any woman who’s started a business, especially when they’re an intersection that makes them even more marginalised and underestimated – older women, women of colour etc.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

“Big mistake. Huge” Pretty Woman, on the commercial loss of women being underestimated.

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?