Don't Interrupt: Megan Colleen McGlynn
Megan Colleen McGlynn is a Chicago-based CD/CW and the founder of Girlsday. A place for women in advertising (besides the pumping room.) If you need a sassy copywriter with a heart of gold, you can reach her at megan@MeganColleenMcGlynn.com
Becky Brinkerhoff is the social media manager for 3% and a copywriter at Arnold Worldwide in Boston. She’s a diversity and inclusivity activist in all things and hasn’t been “chill” a single day in her life.
If you're a woman in advertising, you've probably gotten the "Megan Colleen McGlynn has shared a link to Girlsday" notification many times. The Facebook group now stands at 3,138 women strong and is a case study in creating the space your community needs. Girlsday was the brainchild of Megan Colleen McGlynn, freelance copywriter and winner of the Nancy Hill award. We spoke to the notorious MCM about her unconventional career path, speaking up, and all things Girlsday.
How did you get into advertising?
My mom got a temp gig as a receptionist at a small agency in Chicago and within in a few years, she was an executive account director. It was called Meldrum&Fewsmith. I visited when I was high school and creatives wore jeans to work, had offices with city-views and had, like, four hundred magic markers. Fourteen-year-old me came home thinking, "I want to be in advertising and wear jeans to work have a dog and live in an apartment in Chicago." So, you know, that's what I did, eventually. It took a while for me to get there.
I went to school to be a teacher at Eastern Illinois University. But, I changed my mind. I was in huge trouble with my family for being a loser drop-out. But, my Aunt was a flight attendant and she slipped me an application. Next thing I know, I'm in Stewardess College in Dallas Texas and they're giving me a bob.
I flew the US, Europe, South America, and did something I really didn't do in college: grew up. I mean, try not to grow up when you're finally seeing the world, right? But when American Airlines when on strike, losing that job was a real possibility. And I thought, fuck, I'm qualified to do nothing. So, I decided to go back to school after the strike settled.
I went to Columbia College Chicago on my days off from flying and did a lot of homework in jumpseats and layovers. I'd decided to go into advertising and wanted to be a copywriter, but still needed a book after I graduated. My roommate at the time was a recruiter and she suggested I try AdEd, now The Chicago Portfolio School. Jeff Epstein ran it and hired me to work for him producing the Addy Awards in my time off from flying. Part of my job was organizing all the entries and it was like having my own cheat sheet of the best advertising produced that year. So, I made this list of who I wanted to work for and what ads they created. My boss called it the Meggy's. When my book was done enough to send out, I called those people first and starting getting booked as a Junior Copywriter.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like speaking up would harm your career?
Oh sure. I have a giant mouth.
I remember at one of my gigs we had a straight, male creative director who would use a voice that mocked effeminate gay men whenever he didn't like something. There were awesome interns working for him too and the last thing they needed was to think that garbage. was acceptable.
I called him on it a few times and he got back at me in weird little petty ways.
And of course, I have my own #MeToo stories like most women I advertising and recently started sharing those. Gulp.
Are you creatively fulfilled?
I'm very fulfilled being a creative, but not creatively fulfilled yet. I still want to do more in advertising. I always want to do more. It's like traveling. The more you do it, the more you want to do it. You always want to do the next thing, don't you?
Plus, everyone in advertising has a ton of awesome ideas that go nowhere. So, we're used to picking our egos up after all our work gets killed and starting over again. 'What are we doing next' is the mode that a lot of us operate in.
Why did you create Girlsday?
I was working with my partner Alison and we were invited to a lunch. There were about a dozen us: creatives, reps, producers, post people. We all happened to be women. We talked until the pizza was gone and none of us wanted to leave. Everyone said we should do this again, so I decided to be proactive. I created a Facebook group and named it Girlsday. Like Thursday.
Overnight, it got too big for lunches. It was Chicago women at first, but not for long. It grew organically from there and turned into what it is now: a global community for adwomen.
Unfortunately, when it came to work issues, sexism and sexual harassment were the biggest challenges we all had in common. So, now we had a place to talk about that whole thing, besides with our pals over drinks, and get concrete advice from other women without worrying about being labeled difficult.
How do you keep Girlsday intersectional?
Anyone who's in advertising and doesn't present as a male is welcome in Girlsday. I actively seek out and invite women of color and created GirlsdayWoC as an extension group just for them. Adia Betts (CW) and Nathalynne McGinness (producer) run it.
Hopefully, most members find something in Girlsday that they relate to.
What's the most embarrassing professional faux pas you're willing to admit?
That's hard, I do dumb things daily. But, there's one thing I did that I never even told my team about: the time I didn't wear pants to a client meeting. It had to do with a super early flight. And tights that looked a lot like leggings at 3:00am. And having layers so I didn't notice until I was going through security. But, luckily it was subzero weather so I kept my long coat on and we presented sitting down at a table. And we sold the campaign. (Diana and Elizabeth: HA!)
You've got two minutes to speak about anything without being interrupted. Go.
Girlsday only works because everyone makes it work. It used to be the MCM Show, but then others started posting too and that made it way better. Just because we're all women (or not men is more accurate) doesn't mean we're a monolith, we see proof of that every day in politics. But we're all advertising geeks and we're all interested in what's happening in our industry so that makes for some good threads. It's like any other professional group that way. Except Girlsday is free!
I love when I see women getting awesome advice from other women. I love seeing CCOs and ECDs and Senior Account Directors sharing their knowledge with juniors. I think it works because regardless of our titles or seniority or awards, we're all pretty much worker bees. And women tend to be helpers so this gives us a place to easily do that for each other.
It's also cool to be able to be in a group with people whose careers or work has inspired you. Our industry is full of all sorts of talented people who bring it every day, awesome chicks who are creating amazing, innovating things all the time. Women who are breaking barriers and reaching new levels. It's good to have a place to celebrate our work and promotions and wins.
I love seeing connections being made. I love seeing the rush of support and advice from other women when someone posts about a difficult situation they're dealing with. I love talking about a new ad that just dropped and getting 20 different POVs about it.
I love hearing someone say "I didn't know anyone else felt like that." I love banding together for something we believe in and seeing results. I love seeing women lift each other up every day.
I love that I had an idea and it worked.
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Don't Interrupt is an interview series from the 3% Movement that showcases inspirational indust
Illustration by Raphaela Putz.