Honoree of #Levo100, Michelle Edgar, is a remarkably passionate and driven person that you would know almost immediately upon talking to her. We’re not sure when she finds time to sleep, considering all that she does. Between her successful transition from journalism to music or her reasoning behind starting not one but two organizations, it’s hard to keep up with this woman! She doesn’t need it. “You can always have a day off, but I generally don’t. I love what I do,” she admits.
In addition to directing strategic business development for FRUKT, a creative agency, Michelle is the head of The XX Project, an organization comprised exclusively of professional women leaders and mentors from various industries. In addition to being a CEO and musician, she also founded the non-profit organization Music Unites, which provides access to music education for inner-city children.
Because she received professional training as a young pianist, perhaps this instilled in her a desire for greatness and an immense passion for music. While she was completing her undergraduate degree at Northwestern, a Vanity Fair opportunity opened up to her and she landed the gig. “I reached out to the publisher and said I will do anything to come work for you in London,” she says. The publisher at her former workplace recognized her dedication and helped her get a job at Women’s Wear Daily. This eventually led to her running the beauty department of OK! magazine.
Edgar had a successful career in journalism, but she couldn’t shake her passion for the music industry. By utilizing the same skills that landed her the job at Vanity Fair, she was able to talk her way into a job at Warner Brothers Music. After gaining experience and prominent positions at Quest Management, KIDinaKORNER, Redlight Management, and eventually Frukt, she decided to give something back to the music industry that she loved so much by launching Music Unites.
Already an overachiever, she didn’t stop there. The XX Project was Edgar’s idea because she “wanted to take [her] career to the next level and I wanted to have a place where women could come, collaborate and create businesses to help further one another. The idea was to create something where I could really hear from women both personally and professionally. So I started throwing these TED-like talks,” she says.
The XX Project has hosted over 25 events in the past two years, featuring notable speakers such as Soledad O’Brien and Eve. It just completed its first women’s empowerment retreat in partnership with Equinox. The event included Christine Hassler, spiritual counselor; Damona Hoffman, life coach and author; and Allison Hagendorf, health and lifestyle coach among its lineup of presenters. “It is just really exciting to see women get excited, empowered and support one another,” Edgar says.
Edgar is great at following her passion and staying driven. Fortunately, she doesn’t withhold valuable information and is generous with sharing her secrets to success. Here are three of her tips for becoming a #Boss.
1. Do your research.
“It’s about identifying your passions and I’ve always been really resourceful and did my due diligence. I always became as knowledgeable about the industry and researched it to death. You need to find out the major tentpoles and who are the best leaders. It was that knowledge that helped me get my jobs without the exact experience they were looking for.”
2. Steer clear of laziness.
“My mom taught me always be nice to everyone, because you never knows who has the secrets. Be open to listening and learning and doing different things that power you as an executive. I’m always furthering my education. Go to conferences, go to networking events, look for gaps in your skills and see how to fill them.”
3. Take risks.
“I went from doing sales at Vanity Fair to being an editor. They would ask, ‘Do you have experience?’ and I would say ‘No, but I can do it.’ If I couldn’t get through through with common ground or a connection, I would do whatever I had to do. I would find the assistant or the right access person. I thought, ‘How can I add value to this person?’ and with that attitude they think you’re either crazy or an eager beaver. And then in the in the music business I did the same thing. I was never scared.”
The most important thing to take away from Edgar is this: “Dream big, take risks, create your legacy and let passion drive your journey.”
Photo: Colter Freeman