Meagan Ward created the title “women’s entrepreneurial activist” for herself because it is her life’s mission to mentor and empower other women. This journey into female entrepreneurship started for the 30-year-old Detroit native while she was a student at Western Michigan University.
“It was something my heart was passionate about. I didn’t have a career in it. I wasn’t getting paid for it,” Ward says. “But having that passion for what you do is going to be the driving factor [for] turning what you love to do into a career that supports your lifestyle.”
Since then, that passion has taken her around the globe as a women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship speaker for the U.S. Embassy. Ward was inducted into the speaker program in 2017, and in her role, she connects with women about personal branding, business resources, and improving corporate culture. She has been to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where she met with women in IDP settlements, a local prison, and in law and government positions; Trinidad to speak with women on personal branding; and Washington, D.C., to present at the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders conference.
The coronavirus pandemic makes travel difficult, but Ward is still working as a speaker. In fact, earlier this month, she shared a virtual presentation — titled “Personal Branding Strategies to Implement During COVID-19” — with 40 Moscow citizens.
During that presentation with the U.S. Embassy’s Moscow American Center, Ward encouraged viewers to tap into their purpose during the pandemic, suggesting that this time has created an opportunity for entrepreneurs to hone in on their gifts and skillsets. She also discussed how they could define their personal brands by using social media, creating a board of virtual mentors, and building a website. “What we’re going to see is, corporations are going to take on this personal branding approach where they’re going to put faces in front of their brand to help define their brand,” Ward says. “I told them, us as humans, we already have that gift.”
Ward’s passion to empower women has materialized in other ways, too. In 2017, she founded Femology, Detroit’s first co-working space for female entrepreneurs, and in May, Ward launched The Influencership, a six-week digital course for both aspiring and veteran influencers who aim to build their careers and make an impact through brand partnerships. There are 80 students in her first cohort class.
But, she says it was that first trip as a U.S. Embassy speaker to Tbilisi that changed the trajectory of her life. “I was able to see firsthand that at the end of the day, we’re the same,” Ward says. “We want to be purposeful, and we want to be impactful, and we want to feel valued. It was one of those trips where I was able to connect the dots of my purpose, and truly figure out my why.”
Being a U.S. Embassy speaker has also taught Ward how to be a more empathetic and strategic leader, she says, and how to understand the world from a global perspective rather than an American one.
“Instead of thinking, ‘How can I be more successful or how can I achieve my goals?’ I really think, ‘How can I better build intentional relationships?’ Because that is truly how the world goes around,” Ward says. “Instead of putting success at the forefront, I put humans at the forefront and that came from my experiences working with the embassy.”