LISTEN// Where the first female mayor of Nashville finds her power | Interview By: Susan Rocco
Megan Barry is the very first female mayor in the history of Nashville. As she said in our interview, “now the next won’t have to be the first!”
The job of any mayor is a tight daily schedule of meetings, community appearances, interviews, negotiations, policy reviews and more meetings. It can be grueling, but Megan loves every minute of it, and plans to be the best mayor that Nashville has ever seen. With a focus on education, transportation, poverty, the arts and the economy, there’s a lot to cover; but that just has her even more excited.
“Power comes from waking up every day and making a difference in the lives of others.” The word power means different things to different people , but to Megan, power comes from serving others. By working to serve others and creating positive change in their lives, you open the door to more opportunities to influence people. She is a leader who enjoys solving problems in both community and in business and her goal is to bring the diversity needed to the table to face the issues, have conversations and then take action. “You must have all three in order to move forward,” she said.
Being a woman among a sea of men can be fun. I asked Megan if she is ever judged differently for being a woman in her position. “I don’t really think about that,” she said. “My goal every day is to work toward change where it’s needed, and that can be done by both men and women.” There will always be moments when people will fall into old habits of assumption — like the time Megan was on stage with two CEOs. It was announced that the mayor of Nashville was in the room that day , and the two men turned to each other and said, “Oh wow, that’s exciting, I wonder where he is?” Megan enjoyed turning to them, tapping them on the shoulder, and saying, “I’m right here.” It’s important to have women in policy-making positions , and Megan has gone one step further to making this happen: She gathered together a group of women to discuss the issues of the day in politics. What they realized was that one of the reasons few women enter into the arena is because they lack the funds to do so. They decided to take the money they were spending on food and wine for the meetings and donate it to a woman who wanted to run for office. This is a perfect example of how women work: They see a need, and they take immediate action.
Taking time for quiet and reflection is important for remaining proactive. I asked Megan to describe a typical day as mayor. “There is no typical day, but it’s always a busy schedule full of meetings and interactions with people,” she said. “One of my greatest challenges is finding the time for quiet. I have to make a point to go into my office and ask not to be disturbed so that I can just think.” We all live in a world of noise. It comes to us from all different directions. It can be exhilarating at times, but if we do not stop at some point during the day to think, it will lead us to make poor decisions.
If reflection, serving others and allowing for a diversity of ideas is any indication of great leadership, we just might see Megan serving a second term as mayor of Nashville.
To listen to the complete interview, go to www.women2watch.net and click on podcast.
Originally posted on Bizwomen.com. Philly Femfessional Susan Rocco is a weekly columnist for Bizwomen.com, The Business Journals. Sue Rocco is the founder, producer and host of Women to Watch, a live radio program and weekly podcast with a mission to inspire and encourage more women to pursue leadership roles worldwide.