Join Meagan Francis, The Mom Hour podcast host and entrepreneur, as she takes us on a remarkable journey of reinvention and resilience in her Art of Sway conversation. From her exhilarating days as a radio host, where she skillfully balanced on-air banter with the chaos of a bustling household, to her current endeavor of opening a bookstore in the scenic Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Meagan’s story is filled with twists, turns, and unexpected opportunities.
Learn how Meagan’s ability to embrace change and pivot her career has shaped her life, while delving into the impact of the pandemic on personal and professional reinvention. Host Danielle Wiley and Meagan explore the intersection of major life events, influence, and consumer behavior (don’t miss their take on wedding makeup!), while confessing which Instagram ads they can’t resist.
With candid reflections on the joys and losses that come with change, Meagan’s story is a testament to the power of adaptability and the thrill of stepping into the unknown. Get ready to be inspired and entertained as Meagan shares her experiences, insights, and a few humorous mishaps along the way.
Be on the lookout for:
- How open-mindedness about technology can help a career pivot
- Why being in the “driver’s set” is critical for experiencing reinvention
- When to stay the course VS making the big move
- The changing “micro decisions” brought on by the pandemic and their impact
- How life event marketing can miss the real consumer opportunities
Episode 40: Meagan Francis
Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway, the podcast that uncovers the power of influence and its impact on all areas of our lives. I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week, we’ll explore the many facets of influence through candid conversations with industry insiders from brand marketers to social workers, educators, leaders, and more. Let’s dive in.
Danielle Wiley: Meagan Francis has been a content creator since 2002, placing hundreds of articles and essays in newsstand magazines and websites like Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Midwest Living, The Washington Post, nbcnews.com, NewYorktimes.com, and many more. She moved into digital publishing in the early two thousands as a pioneer in the mom blogging landscape. In 2012, she moved into the world of podcasting. The Mom Hour podcast, co-hosted with Sarah Powers, launched in 2015 and has been downloaded over 15 million times and reaches many thousands of loyal listeners each week. Her podcast, Mother of Reinvention, was created to document the journey of moving into midlife motherhood. And in 2022, she launched the Reinvent Midlife Blog, Reinvent Magazine, and the Reinvent Midlife community to deliver targeted, exclusive content belonging and experiences to, for, and by midlife women. Meagan lives in southwest Michigan with two cats, a couple dozen chickens, her new husband, and her ever-shifting brood of fast-growing teens and young adults.
Danielle Wiley: Meagan and I met back when we both had babies, so that was a long time ago. I’ve always admired her ability to pivot, and rebound, and reinvent. And as you’ll hear, we get into all of that and more. We also spent plenty of time reminiscing about the good old days of mom blogging. While I am grateful to be where I am now and how the industry has evolved, there are definitely aspects of those days that I miss, and Meagan and I had a fun time revisiting some of those highlights. Enjoy.
Danielle Wiley: Hello.
Meagan Francis: Okay, here we are. Hello. Put on our sexy radio voices.
Danielle Wiley: Yes. It’s so good to see you, and a newly married woman.
Meagan Francis: Yes. Isn’t it exciting? Are you going to be like Delilah and send a song out to me? Dedicate a song to me?
Danielle Wiley: I was watching … Have you seen that show The Big Door Prize?
Meagan Francis: No.
Danielle Wiley: It’s like an Apple TV show. It’s with … What’s his name? Chris O’Dowd. He’s best known, I guess, as the cop from Bridesmaids.
Meagan Francis: Oh, yes. Okay.
Danielle Wiley: Very cute.
Meagan Francis: He’s Irish, right?
Danielle Wiley: Yes.
Meagan Francis: Yes. Okay.
Danielle Wiley: But it’s like a super quirky comedy. But there was an episode last night that had a wedding in it, and two separate guests did an interpretive dance routine in honor of the bride and groom, which-
Meagan Francis: Nice.
Danielle Wiley: … one of them was to Sophie B. Hawkins, Wish I Were Your Lover, which I had not heard since 1996.
Meagan Francis: That’s amazing.
Danielle Wiley: So maybe if you get me really pumped up, we can break into that later.
Meagan Francis: That sounds like fun. Let’s definitely do that.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So we met … I was trying to remember. We met forever ago because we were both writers for Chicago Mom’s blog.
Meagan Francis: Yep. I think I know when it was because I only lived in Chicago for a very short time. It would’ve been probably 2007.
Danielle Wiley: Okay.
Meagan Francis: That’s my guess.
Danielle Wiley: That makes … Yeah, that makes-
Meagan Francis: That’s like a lifetime ago.
Danielle Wiley: Forever ago. And back when I really had one foot still in the influencer space and hadn’t fully gone over to the dark side of marketing and was still trying to be a creator myself, and I hosted a party at my house.
Meagan Francis: Yeah. I remember that. You had a really cool place.
Danielle Wiley: Thank you.
Meagan Francis: You were in Lincoln Square. Were you in Lincoln Square?
Danielle Wiley: Roscoe Village.
Meagan Francis: Or Roscoe Village
Danielle Wiley: Close. Yeah. Yeah.
Meagan Francis: I remember that you had a cool fireplace, I believe. Is that true?
Danielle Wiley: I remember that because my husband was out of town and I still had my son, if it was 2007, was only two. So I had little kids at home, was at the house by myself, was having all these people over, which is not my strong suit, and we got a huge snowstorm. And I had to do all the shoveling-
Meagan Francis: Oh my goodness.
Danielle Wiley: … while also getting the house ready, while also having the kids and working full-time. That’s why I remember that party.
Meagan Francis: Yeah. Well-
Danielle Wiley: Life of a mom. There you go.
Meagan Francis: I just remembered your impeccable decor. How about that?
Danielle Wiley: Oh, thank you. So I think my point in bringing this up is that I’ve only known you as a blogging social media person. And as I was working on this, I kind of realized I don’t know anything about your … Did you have a job before that? How did you get into that? What was the deal?
Meagan Francis: Yeah. So I was really quite young when I became a mom, and so I had jobs. I wouldn’t say I had a career really until I was … So I was dabbling in blogging kind of around the time it was getting started. I was a very early internet adopter, very into forums, and ICQ chats, and things like that, and Parents Place message boards. And I think I started a blog in 2001. It was like when it was pretty … It was new, very new, and it was very, very homespun at the time. 20 people on your blog roll, maybe. And that’s all you ever had.
Danielle Wiley: I had a live … I wish I could find it.
Meagan Francis: Live Journal?
Danielle Wiley: I had a Live Journal before I had my blog blog. Yeah.
Meagan Francis: Yeah. So around that same time, I was working in an office, and had two little kids and was really trying to make a move and wanted something more flexible and that I could do from home. And I’d always liked writing and I really wanted to become a freelance writer. So around the time that a lot of people were deeply getting into blogging, I was deeply invested in freelancing for money. So it’s like we’re on parallel paths. I had a blog, but I just didn’t have time to put into it. I needed to be making money. And then when I was pregnant with my third, that would’ve been in 2003, I was like, “I don’t want to go back to work after he’s born. I need to get serious about this.” So that year, that whole summer, I spent the entire summer just sending terrible, terrible pitches to magazines.
Meagan Francis: Back in those days, you still sent them in the mail. And then you had to put a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and then they would send them back, hopefully with a contract. But the whole thing was so … It took forever. And I did that a lot. That was my full-time living. By the time my son was born that fall, I was making enough at it that I never did have to go back full-time. And then within a year, I had quit that job and was freelancing full-time. So while everybody else was starting to get things going with Blogher and stuff, I was going to the American Society of Journalists and Authors conferences. So it was, again, this very parallel path. And some people crossed over, but a lot of people … They were very different. And so it really wasn’t until 2007, ’08 that I thought, “Okay, I think this blogging thing is going somewhere. I feel like it’s time for me to invest in this.”
Meagan Francis: And also, you could tell that traditional publishing was going nowhere. It was going the opposite of somewhere. It was kind of dying. And I think I went to my very first blogging conference in … Well, it was on my 30th birthday, so it was 2007.
Danielle Wiley: Okay.
Meagan Francis: It was Blogher in Chicago. And I had a nursing baby at home. I just remember that was kid number four. And then I thought, “This is a totally different world.” And not to stereotype too much, but I’m going to anyway, I would go to these writer conferences and it would be very kind of frumpy Midwestern people and kind of frazzled looking writer people, a lot of really introverted people. It was just a very different … It was very business, and, “How do I make money?” And also, “I don’t want to talk to people,” and very tech-phobia thing going on there. And then I went to Blogher, and I’m like, “What is this wonderland of sponsor swag and multimedia presentations?” It was so … And stylish.
Danielle Wiley: And everyone dresses-
Meagan Francis: Everyone was so stylish.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, everyone dresses up.
Meagan Francis: Yes.
Danielle Wiley: The thing I miss, if you asked me what I missed most about those days where we were going to all the conferences and seeing each other, there are very few places in this world or events that you can go to where everyone you encounter is like, “Oh my God, you look amazing,” gives you a giant hug. It’s the most fill your bucket type of … I can’t think of any other … This is not happening at the Brand Innovators conference that I go to.
Meagan Francis: Right. I went to Consumer Electronics Show a couple of times, not the same.
Danielle Wiley: Not happening.
Meagan Francis: Not the same.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So I’m wondering if it was like the nature that we were all at the excited cusp of this new thing that was happening, or if it’s that it was all young women. And when you can create your own thing, why not create this wonderland of a world where everyone tells you, “You look so pretty and I love your shoes, and give me a hug.”
Meagan Francis: Yeah. I think that there was definitely something to it being younger women who didn’t take themselves that seriously. They weren’t all in it to make money. People were in it for very different reasons. And there was a sort of marketing current, a through line that people felt to me very savvy about that, including the personal brand. We are here marketing ourselves to each other. And it was just way more visual too. I think even when we were mostly writers, we were still thinking visually. Even though the tech hadn’t caught up with us yet, there were no reels for us to express ourselves that way with yet, but we were already thinking that way. So it was very different and very fun. And I also feel like it was the social event of the year for moms, or of the quarter or whatever, right? We weren’t getting out much.
Danielle Wiley: Well, it was like a … Yeah, you weren’t. And it was, if you didn’t have a job that included work travel. For any mom, whether it’s a conference or anything else, it’s just so nice to get that couple of nights out away in a hotel room without someone hanging all over you and just to feel that freedom again.
Meagan Francis: I also think it was really smart the way the conferences were set up from the beginning as more lifestyle conferences than necessarily just professional conferences. So if you went to something that was like, I’ll just use ASJA as an example, the only sponsors were going to be notebook and pen companies. It was all stuff you would only use to promote your business with or to run your business.
Danielle Wiley: Right.
Meagan Francis: And Blogher or Later Mom 2.0 or [inaudible 00:11:08] or any of those were going to have all the stuff you wanted to use at home, and then talk about. It’s like they just made it a very … It was a very different experience.
Danielle Wiley: I don’t know if it was that Chicago. One of the Chicago ones was the legendary vibrator sponsorship.
Meagan Francis: That, I think was New York. Was that the one where they got-
Danielle Wiley: Was it New York?
Meagan Francis: That I think was the year later or two years later. And they got left all over the-
Danielle Wiley: I thought it was Chicago and Amy Storch … I don’t remember which baby it was. She was holding one of her babies and he got elbowed in the head because someone was running through to try to get the special pyramid shaped vibrator.
Meagan Francis: Okay.
Danielle Wiley: Which sounds painful to me.
Meagan Francis: That’s funny, because I remember hearing that same story about a baby getting elbowed in the head at a bowling party. It was Steph Precourt, she doesn’t go by that anymore, but-
Danielle Wiley: All the babies getting injured.
Meagan Francis: The poor babies. Well, maybe there was multiple vibrator-paloozas or vibrator-gates happening. But yes, I remember there being all kinds. One memory I have, this was in New York, I’m walking to my hotel room, it’s like the end of the night. I’m by myself, and this woman walks up to me and hands me a spoon and she’s like, “Go to the corner of,” whatever, a cross street near there. And she’s like, “And go to the penthouse and give them this spoon.” And I was like, “Okay, I’m not going to not do that.” And I did.
Meagan Francis: And it was one of the early, oh gosh, I don’t even remember who, but one of the little networks that sprang up around, I think it was two women who ran it and they ran, I believe an event company, and they had a soiree happening in this penthouse. And I got in with a spoon. I didn’t know anybody there. I walked around, ate some of their food, checked out the thing, and I was like, “All right, well, I’m out.” And I just remember thinking, “This is the most bizarre experience of my life,” but I kind of loved it, back when I stayed up late.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, it’s not happening now. So one of the things I wanted to talk to you about, and you kind of alluded to it earlier, like you said, you were figuring out the technology and you were kind of more savvy about that. I mean, obviously this is just kind of part of who you are. You’re just a more technical person. Clearly technology is something that makes sense in your brain, unlike those of us who have to push themselves a little bit harder to get there.
Danielle Wiley: The other thing that I was thinking about when thinking about the questions I wanted to ask you is that you’ve, and we’re going to talk about all the pivots that your career has taken, but it seems to me that a lot of them have followed the path of technology and how technology has evolved, and just new platforms becoming open to you and new ways of sharing that did require some new understanding of technology. And looking from the outside in, it seems to me that the fact that you are very technically-minded, and are an early adopter, and have the capability of doing that has allowed you to make some career pivots at times that were very … Doing it sooner than later, which seems to me has been very beneficial for you getting in at the forefront of something.
Meagan Francis: What’s funny is I don’t actually consider myself a super techie person, but what I am is I’m really into communicating. And so wherever that’s happening, wherever the conversation’s happening, I find myself wanting to be there. And then I kind of figure the tech out if I have to. But I’m like, I’m not the earliest adopter. I’m like the one who’s going, “Okay, is this worth it? Is this worth me learning how to even get this app to remember it’s even on my phone,” because I can get very stuck in my ways and my habits and things like that. “Do I really want to be on this platform?” And then once I’m like, “Okay, now there’s sufficient conversations that I find interesting happening there, I’m going to figure it out.” And I think I’m also just an opportunist, so I’m looking for the next thing. And I have to say, back when, and I know we’ve talked a million times about the good old days of blogging, and there was that little window, that little golden bubble of time where bloggers were making money.
Meagan Francis: But then it got intense probably around 2013, 2014. It became very Pinteresty. And I was like, “Eh, I’m not really into Pinterest. I think I’ll start podcasting.” It was such an about face, I had never done anything like that, but to me that felt a little more interesting than what I was seeing at that point happening in the blogging world. So I also love a pivot, and I think sometimes my tendency is to pivot a little prematurely before it’s absolutely necessary. I probably could have ridden blogging out a little longer than I did back then, but I could kind of see where it was going. And I thought, “I feel like in a year or two, this is going to be drying up for people like me.” I never had a huge audience. I always had a respectable audience and I made good content. That’s not the same as being someone who knows how to work the algorithms and get a million page views and all that stuff. That was not me, and I didn’t want to make it be me.
Danielle Wiley: Well, and there was no paid social then.
Meagan Francis: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: So the only way that anyone was seeing your content was if they saw it organically because they were following you. We can now use someone who has 500 followers and get that content in front of as many people as we want by putting …
Meagan Francis: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: But we didn’t have that luxury.
Meagan Francis: It was like we all had to do it for ourselves. We had to be basically our own team of data analysts and all of these things and content creators. And I was like, “Eh, I don’t know.” It just didn’t feel right at that time. And I think I was just a little burned out on having written for so long. So that was kind of how I got into podcasting, but not because I knew really how to figure out the podcasting tech. That took me a really long time. And sometimes [inaudible 00:17:05] still trying to figure it out.
Danielle Wiley: I had the luxury of starting podcasting at the end of 2022 when there’s specialized apps for it-
Meagan Francis: Yeah. [inaudible 00:17:18] none of that.
Danielle Wiley: And I also have an amazing team who does editing and producing for us. You can specifically go online and say, “Best mic for podcasting.” I’m guessing that wasn’t a thing. Who was podcasting in 2013? And what did the podcasting world look like then? And was there a podcast that you were super into that kind of inspired you? Or was it just something you were reading about?
Meagan Francis: In those days I almost exclusively followed business podcasts. The first one I got really, really into was called Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn. It’s still around. I mean, he’s been doing this for a really long time, 12, 13 years. So he’s got to have so many episodes at this point.
Danielle Wiley: I thought you were going to say he is got to be like 85.
Meagan Francis: No, I believe he’s younger than me.
Danielle Wiley: [inaudible 00:18:12] popular.
Meagan Francis: Yeah. No, he’s just really big and he got a lot of content, but I remember just thinking, “Oh, this is …” He was very conversational. It was very low-key, but really good advice. And I liked his vibe. He wasn’t cheesy or that kind of gross feeling that you get sometimes that you’re being sold something. That’s the one I remember really being the one where I would go and clean up after dinner, I’d be making dinner or cleaning up after dinner, and I would be listening to that podcast. There were a couple other people who kind of dabbled in podcasting around that time, and then I think they went away. When was Alton Brown, the Food Network guy. He had a really interesting podcast.
Meagan Francis: I was super bummed that it went away, but when I think back to that time, it was then. And then America’s Test Kitchen was another one. So the cooking show, they had a podcast, which I think also went away. So it was kind of eclectic. The shows I was tuning into, there weren’t that many. So if it was a day that nobody had dropped a new episode, sometimes I’d have to go dig back through archives. There just wasn’t that much content yet. Nothing like there is now. And I would just listen to it and think, “I feel like I can do this.”
Meagan Francis: But to your point, the tech was so rudimentary, I believe when I started podcasting, I had to use Skype to do interviews. So the sound was pretty crummy. And then I had to have a third party app of some sort. So you did the interview, but then you had to have a way to get the files from the interview into GarageBand. And so that all had to … It was all these different settings on my computer. And my husband at the time, my now ex-husband, kind of had it all set up for me, but if any setting changed, if I unplugged my mic and then plugged it back in, the whole thing was shot and I had to go back in the settings. I mean, it was awful. And then the hosting was really clunky. I was using Amazon Web Services to host for a while, which gave me no stats really. It gave you the amount of bandwidth that had been used, and then you could use some really complicated formula to sort of guess how many downloads that might be.
Danielle Wiley: Like figuring out your cost per gallon, right?
Meagan Francis: Yes, exactly. And so those were the tools. And then I, a few years in, did get to know some radio people. I know we’ll talk about that, but they kind of steered me towards … Because radio people were figuring this out early, and that helps me kind of advance a little bit where I had a better mic, I had better software. But man, when I look now what we can do, what we’re using to record today and all of the editing tools, and how everything is just connected now, and you can do all of it in one place, that would’ve blown my mind back then, 10 years ago.
Danielle Wiley: Well, and now it’s amazing to me, even since we started this in the fall, how much the AI connected to podcasting has evolved. Creating social media posts, and the transcripts are still a little-
Meagan Francis: A little wonky.
Danielle Wiley: Wonky, but it’s doing a lot.
Meagan Francis: Yes, it really is. But I feel like every time there’s some advance, then we think it’s going to buy us back so much time, but it doesn’t because it just raises the bar and now it’s like … Because it’s like everyone’s getting a little easier all at the same time, so then everyone’s output becomes a little more, or it’s just there’s more expected of you. So what I could get away with in 2013, let’s say, when nobody else was podcasting yet, or even 2014 or ’15 when that was around the time Serial was out and people were starting to pay attention, advertisers we’re starting to get a little bit interested, but the bar was very low. And it’s just a lot higher now. So there’s no free pass, right? Just because there’s tech there doesn’t get us off.
Danielle Wiley: There’s such a continuum too, right? You have this super, super highly produced, This American Life or Heavyweight, where they’re taking months to put together an episode. And even something like this that’s kind of more casual and it’s a single conversation. There was one, I interviewed old friend a few episodes ago, and I think Amy, who’s our amazing editor, said it was over a thousand edits to that one half hour conversation.
Meagan Francis: Oh my gosh.
Danielle Wiley: There’s still a lot of work even in one that just seems like, “Oh, let’s just talk and pop it up there.”
Meagan Francis: Right. Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: Kind of wild.
Meagan Francis: I had something similar happen where, not a thousand, but my editor said to me recently … Because I was using a program like this where it does feel like you can make a lot of little cuts and you can start and stop and all that. And I’m over here like, “Woo, this is great.” And he’s like, “Do you think we could maybe streamline your process a bit?” “Okay, Brian, we can do that. I’m so sorry.”
Danielle Wiley: “Fine.”
Meagan Francis: But you’re right. And with my podcast, my solo podcast, Mother of Reinvention, which is different from the one that I’ve been doing for … I’ve only been doing it for a couple of years now. I’ve experimented. I would love to produce something super narrative and highly produced and all that, but it takes so long. There’s not enough right now money in that for me, and I don’t have the time. So it’s finding that balance.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, exactly.
Meagan Francis: Just good enough. And what delivers what people are looking for, which might not always be that.
Danielle Wiley: Right. Well, and now what’s interesting to me is the growing interest in video podcasting and having a video stream that you are also sharing and allowing people to have access to. But that’s a whole other, getting into the weeds of it, that’s a whole other separate editing process because if you take out an audio that’s fine and dandy, but then there’s also weird visual things that happen.
Meagan Francis: It has to go away both places. Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: Too much. Our first episode is the only one with video. And that is why. Yeah, too much.
Meagan Francis: Yeah. That’s why I’ll just do little clips for social, because it doesn’t really matter if they’re a little jerky, and people like them. But I can’t do the whole one right now.
Danielle Wiley: No, no.
Meagan Francis: I don’t have the time for that.
Danielle Wiley: So you mentioned before that you met some people in radio, and that’s because you were an actual real live morning show host, right?
Meagan Francis: A morning show host. Yes. Okay, so this is the craziest story. This was in 2016, and a local radio show, the morning, they call it Hot Adult Contemporary. So that’s like top 40 without rap essentially. So they were looking for preferably a female morning show co-host to compliment the male morning show host who’d been on for a while, long time. And he caught wind that I had a podcast. I mean, I live in a small town. It’s not like there’s radio talent dripping off the walls. That is not the case. And I feel like he did some kind of week of guest hosts or something, which was essentially an audition. I might’ve gone in for a whole week and guest hosted with him for a week just for fun.
Danielle Wiley: Like The Daily Show has Leslie Jones and …
Meagan Francis: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: Okay.
Meagan Francis: And we really hit it off. And it was like, “Oh, okay.” So then he asked me if I’d like to do it for real. And at the time I feel like … I mean, this all happened at the same time I was getting divorced. So it was like I started a radio morning show job, and then three weeks or a month later or something got separated from my ex-husband. And morning shows our mom prime time. That’s the time of day that I would be getting my kids up and out the door. So for the first year, I did have a babysitter who came in the morning and got them up for school and all that. It was actually pretty amazing.
Meagan Francis: I’m really grateful that I had that year of doing that because it got me out of the house. It got me to bed at a decent time. It got me up early and out the door, but I didn’t have to do the mornings with the kids. I had a sitter coming in, and it was really great, and I learned a lot, and it was super, super fun. There’s no money in local radio. I think I actually lost money on that deal just to pay the sitter. So the second year I did it, I actually, this is so crazy pants. I did the show from my kitchen table while they were getting ready for school.
Danielle Wiley: No.
Meagan Francis: And then I would drop them off at school and head into the studio and do the second hour and a half or so in the studio.
Danielle Wiley: They were tiptoeing around you?
Meagan Francis: Yes. Well, I’d be like, “Okay, guys, shut up. Mom’s going on air.” And then it would be like, “Countdown,” because I had on my computer screen, I could see the song, you would know that you were going live after this song. It’s this little program and you can see it. And then it would be like, “All right, shut up.” And then they would all go quiet, and I’d be on air for two and a half, three minutes typically. And then it would be like, “Okay,” I’d hit mute and then they would be around me again. But the timing was so tight. If my son missed the bus, my day is wrecked. If my daughter was dragging her feet, forgot her lunchbox, I’m like, “Can’t go back.” The whole thing-
Danielle Wiley: Right, someone has a stomach ache, or [inaudible 00:27:35]
Meagan Francis: Not allowed. And so then on top of that, they really want you to do a lot of appearances. And that was really kind of what killed it for me. I think we could have made … Especially because a year after I ended up quitting, everybody went remote. I’m pretty sure everyone is now because of the pandemic. I don’t think anyone’s in that studio anymore. But at the time, even some of the stuff I would prerecord, that was not really done yet. And I could have probably swung that, but it was like, “And now we also want you to come to this local restaurant every Tuesday night and do a girls’ night, and do a live broadcast, and do a drawing,” and all this stuff. And I was like, “I just can’t. It was too much.” But radio was fun. And it’s weird. It’s so different from the world we live in. It’s very old school in a way, but very earnest in a way too. So I had a lot of fun.
Danielle Wiley: I’m very obsessed with morning show radio. I fell in love with the radio hosts in San Francisco when we lived there. And I moved here to Michigan two years ago, and I still listen to that morning show.
Meagan Francis: I love it.
Danielle Wiley: I listen on the app. And it’s a different one, it’s mostly talking in the morning. So they’ll talk for 20 minutes, then they’ll do commercials, a song, and then come back and talk for 20 minutes. So you could not do it while your kids were getting ready.
Meagan Francis: No. And this was truly banter, banter, banter, banter, banter, and then-
Danielle Wiley: Song.
Meagan Francis: Six songs.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Meagan Francis: And then 15 minutes of commercials. So it wasn’t a lot of on air time, but it did really require us to be very on point. We had to have great rapport, and funny things to say, and banter and all of that. Snappy, snappy, snappy, and then done. Because with radio, things are very on the clock. You can’t just go over. When it’s done, it’s done. When it’s time for a commercial, that commercial has to go. So it was very different from podcasting.
Danielle Wiley: Got it. Yeah. I always want to call in and share my thoughts for five, 10 minutes, but I can imagine that would get-
Meagan Francis: You should.
Danielle Wiley: … old quickly, possibly, or harder. They text them a lot.
Meagan Francis: Yeah. You never know though, they might love … Is it a call in show? Are there opportunities to call in?
Danielle Wiley: No, they have texting now. So they’ll be talking about something and you can text them. So I’m like …
Meagan Francis: We always loved getting calls because it just broke up the monotony and not that many people call anymore.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. Yeah. That’s not as much of that thing.
Meagan Francis: When they did it was fun.
Danielle Wiley: So adding to your never ending list of careers, you have just started another one that is also incredibly exciting and on a lot of people’s bucket list, I think, which is you’re opening a bookstore with your sister.
Meagan Francis: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: Tell us more.
Meagan Francis: So this is crazy. Okay, so I was born and grew up in the upper peninsula of Michigan. So if you’re not a Michigander, like you and I are, it is like the place that’s … There’s 300,000 people in the entire upper peninsula. I didn’t realize there was that few.
Danielle Wiley: I’ve only been once, and you can drive for a long time and not see another … It’s almost like driving through the salt flats in Utah.
Meagan Francis: Yes.
Danielle Wiley: Where you start to wonder if maybe you died, and this is some alternate reality.
Meagan Francis: Did the world end? Is it the apocalypse? Do you remember where you went? I’m curious.
Danielle Wiley: Well, we were near Escanaba, but we were down on this little tiny peninsula. We drove past all these [inaudible 00:31:15]
Meagan Francis: Probably the Garden Peninsula.
Danielle Wiley: They were all-
Meagan Francis: Which, there’s nothing.
Danielle Wiley: I just remember giant signs, “Don’t blame me. I voted for Trump.” We’re driving, and I was like, “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.” It was a gorgeous, gorgeous cabin right on the water, the most amazing sunsets ever. But you had to kind of-
Meagan Francis: It’s got that very country … It’s very rural and spread out. Now, depending where you are, if you’re in Marquette, that’s where my son’s going to college, it’s more-
Danielle Wiley: Marquette’s amazing. I loved it.
Meagan Francis: Yeah, great.
Danielle Wiley: We got there and-
Meagan Francis: More cosmopolitan.
Danielle Wiley: … got out of the car and I saw, a trans woman walked past us, and I was like, “Oh my God, thank God.”
Meagan Francis: So, I mean, the UP is basically if you took a city of 300,000 people, but you spread it out, and so the pockets of … People gravitate toward their, just like in a bigger city, to the neighborhood or whatever. But it’s spread out across this huge mass of land, and pockets of little towns that all have a very unique flavor. So anyway, I grew up, up there. My sister and brothers grew up, up there. I moved downstate in high school because my dad and mom divorced, and my dad moved down here. And so I had lived downstate ever since, but had been going back up with my family and stuff like that. And when Eric, my now new husband, that’s so crazy. I haven’t said that that many times. When he and I met, we started going up there together, and then he kind of fell in love with it.
Meagan Francis: And we ended up buying property up there. And we bought in this little town called Manistique, which by the way has a very active gay community, which I was surprised by.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Meagan Francis: Because it’s the UP. But also a lot of kind of stores with crystals and witchy stuff. It’s this weird kind of hipster hippie thing happening in this teeny tiny little town. So we were up there, we had just bought property up there, and we’re having breakfast one morning, and we’re trying to decide, “Well, now we have this piece of land. What are we going to do up here? Do we want to invest further in this place?” And we just got talking about what this town could use, and I was like, “I feel like I could just really use independent bookstore, and I feel like my sister should run it, and her husband.” They met in a independent bookstore, and they both work for the state. They work remotely, blah, blah, blah. And it somehow went from-
Danielle Wiley: And do they live in UP? Or do they live-
Meagan Francis: No, they didn’t, but they moved up there. So they lived in Lansing, and somehow it went from me going, “Wouldn’t it be fun if …” To within three months we had bought a building. I don’t even know how this happened, but now the building has been completely gutted. And Eric, my husband, is working on it and getting … It’s going to be super awesome in there. And then my sister and her husband, his name’s also Eric, he quit his job for the state. They moved up there. They’re living above the store. And so they’re going to run a bookstore, and my Eric and I are going to more be in charge of running the market that the building is going to be part … because the bookstore itself can’t fill this building, it’s too big. So we’re going to have other things like eventually a wine bar, and a coffee shop, and kind of like … I’m sure in Ann Arbor you probably have one of those sort of indoor markets, right? It’s like-
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Meagan Francis: You go in and there’s multiple things to do. So that’s the goal, to eventually have it be like that. But the bookstore is the first thing, and none of us have any idea what we’re doing. We don’t know. But man, what a great thing to do. I just feel like it’s the perfect mix of something in real life. I’ve been working digitally for so long that it’s fun to think about seeing people, and interacting with human beings, and promoting independent authors, and books, and all that stuff. I’m just really excited. So that is in progress. I don’t really have much to share yet, except that it turns out finding a contractor is harder than I thought.
Danielle Wiley: It’s very hard, even not in the UP. So I can’t imagine.
Meagan Francis: Yeah. If any electricians or plumbers want to go hang out in the UP for a few weeks-
Danielle Wiley: Hit you up.
Meagan Francis: We can put you up somewhere.
Danielle Wiley: Amazing.
Meagan Francis: There’s a really cool motel down the road that we could get you a room in. But yeah, we’ve had a really hard time with that, but everybody does everywhere. So …
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, so I think the theme of everything we’ve talked about, and even your podcast is called Mother of Reinvention, and your career and life have taken so many pivots and you’ve kind of … I don’t know that I would say you’ve reinvented your whole self because it kind of seems like evolution, really. But it can feel like a reinvention in the moment, I can imagine quitting something, starting something new, it’s all consuming. And it’s so scary to so many people who I think oftentimes stays stuck in a situation that they shouldn’t necessarily be in because it is so scary to take that leap. So why do you think you’re so drawn? I mean, it seems to be working for you, but why do you think you were drawn to it and what [inaudible 00:36:31]. I don’t know, I’m just curious.
Meagan Francis: Yeah, no, I get the question. I do think that there’s some personality at play here. If we really wanted to unpack this and you wanted to be my therapist or something, we could probably point to some chaotic childhood stuff where I just got used to being in motion and keeping things moving. I think there’s definitely part of that. I am more comfortable acting and seeing if there’s going to be something that’s going to go a certain way, I am more comfortable saying, “How do I get in front of it? How do I stay on top of it?” So for me, the scary thing would actually be sitting still and not making the move. That would spook me. And it’s so interesting because on The Mom Hour, which is the podcast I’ve been doing since 2015 with my co-host and business partner, Sarah Powers, she’s definitely the more stay the course, just keep doing the thing, check off the list.
Meagan Francis: You know what I mean? And don’t change things till you have to. And I am so opposite that I think it’s actually been really good for us both because I’ve seen modeled what can happen when you don’t prematurely try to shake things up that don’t need to be shaken up, or give something time, let it percolate a little bit, see what it can do. Don’t yank the cord because it’s not producing right away. Sometimes things take time. And at the same time, I’m like, “Okay, but we really need to move on this because,” so I’m there kind of pulling and saying, “This is a thing. We need to go in this direction. I can see what’s happening. I see the writing on the wall. Let’s try this.” And I think that partnership has been really good for us. I think that also reinvention’s happening to all of us, whether we want it to or not.
Meagan Francis: And I am just more comfortable in the driver’s seat. And I think that what I really noticed during the pandemic is that people who really have a hard time adapting, struggled the most. I mean, that’s not surprising. Right? If you didn’t want to work from home and couldn’t quite figure out how to get the contact you needed, let’s just say, then that was going to really suck for you. Or if you didn’t want to make the switch to doing things more digitally, including schooling your kids, then that was really going to suck for you. Or having your groceries delivered.
Meagan Francis: All of the little micro-decisions we make every single day, that suddenly changed for me. There was a lot of actually energy and excitement around that, which is weird because it was also a really crappy time for a lot of people. So it’s not like … I wasn’t having a party every day, but I felt like I was like, “Okay, I’m in a time of my life where I could probably stand a change. I’m ready for something to be different. This is really different. How am I going to react to this?” It was being in a reality show or something. So …
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I can’t tell you how many times my son would turn to me and he’d be like, “Are you so glad we’re not little right now while this is happening?”
Meagan Francis: Yes. Oh my gosh. I thought about that too. Not just with schooling, the loss of the social support networks, the ability to take your kid to the McDonald’s Playland, all of those things. But things I wouldn’t even have thought about. Now you can’t take the older kid with you to the baby’s pediatrician appointment. Figure that out, mom. I don’t even know that. I feel like I just wouldn’t have done any of the things. I would’ve just been like, “Nevermind then, my kids won’t go to the dentist for years. How about that?”
Danielle Wiley: Right.
Meagan Francis: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: I’m glad we seem to be on the other side of it, but there were a lot of good things that came. It’s interesting looking back at something that was so traumatic and kind of parsing out the good and the bad and how-
Meagan Francis: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: As a sociology major it’s an interesting exercise.
Meagan Francis: Well, and I think for myself, I’m more inclined to be optimistic in the moment and then later look back with a little more of a realistic eye. And so in the moment I was like, “Oh, this is so great. This is what’s great about this?” And now I’m looking back, I’m like, “Oh. But I lost some stuff.” There was some loss happening, and I didn’t realize it at the time. I didn’t realize, for example, that there were restaurants that I never went back to, people that I never spoke to again. I just didn’t. In the moment, you don’t realize that, and then you’re like, “Oh,” three years later, “Wow, this is a very different life I’m leading.” And there was loss with that for sure.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So this is season four and something we are asking everyone to close out their episode is to tell us what the last thing was that you were influenced to buy, watch, listen to, or read.
Meagan Francis: Okay. I really have a hard time with questions where there’s just one answer. So this is going to be a little wordy
Danielle Wiley: Answer as many as you want.
Meagan Francis: Well, I’m just going to tell you because it’s been on my mind, is that many other women our age, I was influenced to listen to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s new podcast.
Danielle Wiley: Oh, it’s so good.
Meagan Francis: It’s so good.
Danielle Wiley: So good.
Meagan Francis: It’s so good. And I just listened to the one yesterday with Carol Burnett. It’s like they just keep getting better.
Danielle Wiley: Oh, I haven’t done that. I’ve been saving that one for later in the week.
Meagan Francis: I think I have like 10 minutes later in the morning. As soon as we’re done, I’m going to go for a walk and finish it. Okay. So that’s the listen to. But here I’m going to talk a little bit about shopping because I think you’ll find this interesting as a marketing person. I just got married, and there’s a name for this, Danielle. It’s a time of your life when you’re likely to buy a lot of stuff. Do you know what I’m talking …? There’s a marketing phrase for that.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah.
Meagan Francis: It’s a life event or something.
Danielle Wiley: Like going to college, or … Right, right, right.
Meagan Francis: Yeah. So getting married, I would assume probably ranks up there. And I, for some reason felt like getting married was a sort of invitation to change everything up. “I need new underwear, I need new makeup. I need all these new things because I’ve been carrying around this crappy old makeup back and forth to my boyfriend’s house, and now it’s all broken and I’m going to invest in some really good stuff.” So I was waiting for the algorithms to figure me out, what was happening, and start feeding me content around that. And I really didn’t feel like it did. I got David’s Bridal, so someone figured that because I went to Davidsbridal.com, so they figured that out. And I got a lot of that. And then some competitors to David’s. I ended up buying Honey Love bras and shapers.
Meagan Francis: They fed me that. But really I expected more. And what I really was surprised by, and I felt like it was a real missed opportunity. So if you’ve got Instagram’s ear or Facebook’s ear, maybe you could bug this in it, that the content I was fed never changed. So I, like a lot of people, I wake up in the morning and I flip through reels. That’s kind of how I get going in the morning. And I would see different ads. So some of the ads I think were becoming more targeted to skincare, makeup, stuff like that.
Meagan Francis: But none of the content was, I wasn’t fed any content from other brides or anything about getting ready for your wedding, nothing about doing your hair, nothing about venues or travel, nothing. And I thought, “So the only thing that they’re doing it feels like is feeding me the same ads over and over.” I felt like I was not marketed to very well during that stage. So I ended up going out-
Danielle Wiley: Missed opportunity.
Meagan Francis: Yeah. I ended up going out and kind of trying to influence myself. So I went to some beauty influencers. I don’t follow a lot of beauty influencers, but there’s a couple that we’ve known forever.
Danielle Wiley: Sarah?
Meagan Francis: Yeah, Sarah. Okay. Thank you. Yes. One was Sarah. And I went to her website, and she’s not blogging a whole lot, but she had some makeup recommendations. And here’s the funny part, it’s like i-
Danielle Wiley: Her makeup recommendations, I’ll will say, are very expensive. I have to be like-
Meagan Francis: Yes.
Danielle Wiley: … “How much money do I have?”
Meagan Francis: I was in the mood to spend. I didn’t spend a lot on my wedding, so I was in the mood to spend a lot of my face. But here was the thing. It was as though I thought somehow getting married was going to turn me into a different human being or something. So the makeup recommendations that I went with were super pigmented eyeshadows and foundation with a lot of coverage. And I got all this stuff. I’m like, “I’m never going to wear any of this.” So I think I just kind of blew some money. And then my favorite thing that I bought was some Burt’s Bees cream eyeshadow and a Burt’s Bees cream blush. And the one thing I did get from Sarah’s influence that I loved was the Bobby Brown face balm stuff.
Danielle Wiley: Oh, that miracle balm?
Meagan Francis: Yes.
Danielle Wiley: I haven’t tried, I’m so intrigued by it, and I haven’t bit the bullet.
Meagan Francis: Have you seen the ads a million times on Instagram? Because I was seeing those ads a lot.
Danielle Wiley: So many. Yeah, with that beautiful woman with the long silver hair?
Meagan Francis: Yes. And then I saw Sarah in one of the ads.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Meagan Francis: And I was like, “Ooh, Sarah likes it. I’m going to get it.” And I will say, I genuinely did love that product. I just got one, I got the dusty rose, so I just use it as a blush and a highlighter. But I was like, “Okay, that was worth it.” And I tried a couple other things and I was like, “Yeah, they’re all right. They’re great for somebody.” They just weren’t for me. So I guess what I was reminded is that just because there’s a major life event happening does not mean suddenly I’m going to put different makeup on my face every day. Being married does not make me wear super pigments.
Danielle Wiley: I’m not getting married, but I realize that all my makeup was super old and I’m not very good at it. And my daughter is amazing at makeup, and always has been, and knows exactly how to apply it and do all the things. But she is 21 and has very different things that she’s trying to highlight, hide, whatever, than I am. So I asked around at work, I was like, “Who are the great makeup people for women with maturing skin and hooded eye?” All the things that older ladies have to deal with. And so I got a few suggestions of makeup artists who specialize in older skin. And I was trying to look at it myself, and I tried something and I came downstairs and my son was like, “You look like someone punched you in the eye.”
Meagan Francis: Wait, were you trying to do contouring too? I’m never going to do contouring.
Danielle Wiley: No. No, I was just trying to make my eyes look more open or something.
Meagan Francis: Okay.
Danielle Wiley: I don’t know what I was doing. So then I sent all the recommendations to my daughter and I was like, “Can you go follow all of these? Figure out what do I need to buy? What do I need to do? And then tell me, and then I’ll order it all and then you can show me what to do. Because my brain is not comprehending how to do all this stuff and I’m looking crazy.” And so that’s what I ended. I had to bring in an intermediary to sit through-
Meagan Francis: I love that your kids are your consultants in these things though. I mean, that’s the great thing about having teenagers, right? And older kids, is that they know stuff that we don’t know. So we don’t have to. But I do feel like right now for ladies of a certain age, we’re going towards stick based makeup now. That’s what I’m seeing everywhere.
Danielle Wiley: I have so many sticks. This morning, I have the stick eyeliner, the stick blush, the stick eyeshadow.
Meagan Francis: You just smear sticks all over your face, and then you walk out the door and you’re good.
Danielle Wiley: It’s great.
Meagan Francis: Done and done.
Danielle Wiley: Amazing. Well, on that note, thank you so much. It’s always great catching up with you.
Meagan Francis: Yes.
Danielle Wiley: And we should do it sometime not on a podcast, since we don’t live that far apart.
Meagan Francis: We certainly don’t. And I would love to come visit you in Ann Arbor, and I would love for you to come visit the bookstore when it’s open. So I’ll let you know.
Danielle Wiley: That would be amazing. I would love it. Well, thank you again. This was terrific.
Meagan Francis: Thanks Danielle.
Danielle Wiley: Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring marketing conversations through the lens of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.