Dr. Meghan Walsh is reluctant to lead with titles & CV’s. It’s the thesis behind her strategy to collaborate together on featuring women Docs on a style & fashion blog. In her professional culture, it’s all about the CV, the research and the degrees. The humanity of doctors gets reduced to accomplishments. She wanted to see what it would be like to put them in an environment where they had to talk and think about themselves first.
Meeting with each, very accomplished woman, I found that it was easy for them to talk about their work and their patients. These are women who can literally save lives, so I see where that would be easy to talk about.
When the questioning turned personal, the answers didn’t come as easy. I suspect it’s because they rarely do think about themselves. They have so many others to consider. I found it to be in stark contrast to the interviews I conducted with women in the creative field. I suspect that is because, as creative women, we’re constantly in a state of expressing ourselves. It’s part of the process we have to leverage to make things for the brands we work for.
Dr. Walsh’s experiment also stretched me to think more about what style means, who I show up as conducting interviews and how I write about my subjects. I found myself feeling really unworthy to interview these women. See, I work in retail, and while I love my job, I also think that the work I do isn’t as important when compared to these gals. These doctors can work anywhere in the world and they all chose to work at a hospital that embraces communities of people that the rest of the world discards. That is very different than debating about what shade of red lipstick would work best for the spring season. We literally sometimes say: “Hey, we’re not saving lives here, people.”
What I also discovered through this process is that the doctors were feeling unworthy to be featured on a style blog. It was really hard for them to get out of their heads, be vulnerable in front of a camera, and have articles published about them. Worried texts were sent, articles were edited, fear was expressed.
As I was reflecting about how everything transpired over the past few weeks, I realized that this perfectly illustrates how Meghan operates as a teacher.
She likes to test systems and assumptions and empowers those around her to build strong & smart communities. She doesn’t tell you the answer to the problem. She builds the environment and brings you along on the journey, helping you identify the symptoms so you can solve the problem on your own. That’s what makes her such a great teacher. Meeting her, you’d never know that she’s an executive and runs one of the most respected resident programs as Chief Academic Officer at HCMC.
Science came easy to Meghan and she actually thought she’d be a teacher. She spent 2 years in the Peace Corp, working in Africa, and also worked at Planned Parenthood before she decided to go to medical school. She envisioned a life as a doctor working in Africa. HCMC is the perfect place for her because she gets to work in the diverse community that she thought she had to travel the world to experience.
I find Meghan’s style so fascinating because she stays true to her value system. She is not interested in the “finer things” even though she can easily afford them. She also has this magical mixture of formal and informal authority. Formal because she has a fancy C-Suite title and it’s easy to move people by flexing your title.
More importantly, she has informal authority. Informal is earned, and she earns it by speaking truth to power and acting authentically in every environment she walks into. Informal authority looks like calling 5 doctors and saying you have this idea for a blog article, show up with 4 outfits and be ready to be photographed and interviewed. Then all 5 women show up with suitcases full of clothes and hearts full of trust in a woman they know would never steer them wrong.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? The Obamas. Since you live next door, I’d invite you too.
I just want some hope and I want to know why shit can’t happen.
Would you like to be famous?
No. I don’t want my life on display and I don’t want my kids exposed. I prefer relative anonymity to worrying about my image and the pressure to keep it up.
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Unfortunately, no. This is also true when I’m speaking out at a board meeting or to a boss.
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Something active with my family. Hiking in a beautiful mountainous place. Ending the day with a glass of wine and my kids not on technology. I love hanging with my family. We’re actually taking a camping trip to the Grand Canyon in an art van. It’s my “Instagram” vacation.
When did you last sing to yourself?
Oh, yesterday! My husband, Chuck, is obsessed with Alexa and remembers song titles and artists. Yesterday, I sang that song: “Joey, I’m not angry anymore!!!!!”
If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Mind, hello! As doctors, we play “what would be the worst disease to get” game. Mine is locked-in syndrome where the brain is fine, but you can’t speak or move. You’re screaming from the inside. But I guess that’s contrary to what I just said about mind versus body.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
Yes, dementia. There is cognitive loss on my dad’s side. I’m going to have just enough going on with my brain to be a pain in the ass. I’m going to question the doctor’s every move.
What do you and your partner appear to have in common?
Laughter, politics, kids & dogs. We enjoy being parents and are dog lovers.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My health and the health of my family. The rest is gravy.
If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
Probably exposure to a greater diversity of people’s backgrounds and religions. I was definitely taught empathy, but my classroom and community weren’t diverse.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
I would sing like Sinead O’Connor. I would love to be able to sing.