We sat down with Meredith Dean for part two of our two part interview. In this part, we discuss her journey as an entrepreneur based on a passion of storytelling and her dedication to giving back to those in need.
Meredith is the founder of The Dean’s List, a digital branding and career consulting company.
Meredith, tell us how you got started as an entrepreneur.
So I started The Dean’s List in my tiny NYC apartment in 2015 and it’s just been growing ever since. I created a personal website for myself. That helped me get all of my jobs and all of my internships from Fox to CNN to CBS.
My first full-time job in New York was on Inside Edition. While I worked there, Deborah Norville asked me if I could create her website. It’s changed since then, but I helped her create the original Deborahnorville.com. Afterwards, I empowered her to take it over.
After that, her co-anchor heard that I did websites and the makeup artist on the show needed a site too. Before I knew it, I was creating personal branded sites for all of these different individuals! So when I was able to empower people to have a personal online brand, I realized it was time to start my own company.
Having my own company and the extra income really helped with expenses. As everyone knows New York – it’s not cheap to live there!
The Dean’s List has been a great way to combine my passion for storytelling with my love of building websites. With our work, I can make people feel really good about themselves and find their dream job. One of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur is that I can do my work from anywhere.
So you moved from New York down south. What brought you to Charlotte, North Carolina?
In addition to The Dean’s List, I joined the Ryan Seacrest Foundation in 2016. I run Seacrest Studios at Levine Children’s Hospital Charlotte. We uplift pediatric patients through radio, film, and tv.
I am the program coordinator as well as on air talent. I work to bring in any celebrities that come to Charlotte to do meet and greets with all of our patients and perform, if time permits.
It’s just something that really takes the kid’s minds off their illnesses. Seacrest Studios delivers a variety of programming for patients throughout each week. I run the intern program and create all of the programming throughout the week.
Something that’s really important to me is giving back. With my company, The Dean’s List, I aso donate a percentage of my revenue to another organization called Habitat Aid Initiative. This nonprofit builds girls schools and wells in clinics in western Kenya and was started by my dad in 2003.
Tell us more about your Habitat Aid Initiative.
My dad was a teacher in western Kenya, and he lived there for a very long time until he got sick with malaria. He had to come back to the US for treatment. When he left, he made a promise to all of these people that he would come back and help them. A lot of his student’s parents were dying of AIDS and all these different diseases and there was not enough good health care for them.
He created the foundation to help build sustainable communities. I’ve been going back to Kenya myself since I was 10 years old and every single year my dad takes a group there. It’s half humanitarian and half safari. You get to see both sides of the economy and meet all sorts of different people. It’s all about building sustainable communities so you help teach these people to keep taking care of things once they leave.
You are very successful in everything that you are doing! Did you always know that this is where your life would be?
Well, when I was a freshman I thought I was going to be an international business major. Accounting really scared me so I freaked out and decided to move into journalism. One of my mentors for student government thought I’d really like journalism based on my personality. I went to the school news station and it changed everything for me.
That’s when I decided to be a digital broadcast journalism major. News and world events apply to everyone. It doesn’t matter what your job is, where you are from or where you go. We’re a part of this world and a part of communities. We all need to be aware of what’s going on and also try to help educate the public.
In wrapping up, can you share any advice to to other entrepreneurs?
I’d say that self-reflection is so important as an entrepreneur because we’re not perfect by any means. We don’t know it all.
There’s so much to learn in this world and the more people you connect with, the more people you can look up to, admire and really learn from; that’s the way the world is going to get better.
You can check out part 1 of our interview with Meredith – Is It Time To Ditch Your Resume – and also reach out to her if you are interested in learning how to create an online portfolio for your brand.