Morra Aarons Mele

Member Spotlight

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

I’m a mother of three, business owner, and committed hermit entrepreneur. My company, Women Online, creates digital campaigns that mobilize women. I’ve been a blogger since 2005 and a feminist rabble rouser since I was 15. I’ve done internet strategy for two presidential candidates (hopefully soon to be three!) and more social action campaigns than I can count. I have two boys and a girl, so I’m committed to raising good men and smart women. I’m an introvert married to an extrovert. I have a lot of emotions and I’m happy talking about all of them; I believe they add to my strength as an entrepreneur and a strategist.

My first book, Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert's Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You'd Rather Stay Home), just came out!

How would you define your professional mission?

I love my work but I also love everything else in my life, and I’m devoted to developing skills and systems that make space for both. Now I want to bring those skills to other people. I believe there isn’t only one way to be an entrepreneur, and I wholeheartedly rebel against our current culture of entrepreneurship porn and rampant FOMO. I’m very ambitious and very driven. But I’m also someone who struggles with anxiety and depression. I had 9 jobs before I was 30. I have hidden in the bathroom or left early from many conferences and meetings because I was too nervous. Over the course of my life, I’ve gone through times when my personal and work relationships were hanging by a thread.

But right now, I have a job and work I love. And I work at home in my yoga pants three days a week. How did I get here? I learned a lot of strategies from others, and I want to share them.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

I have worked on four Presidential campaigns, but my proudest is work is as a political blogger. Blogging about politics gave me a platform to share women’s points of view--which, trust me, was then and still is in short supply in Beltway culture, no matter how important women are as a voting bloc. I blogged and managed political programming for BlogHer.com, which was the largest community for women who blog. BlogHer came at a time (2005) when blogs were changing news and political coverage. All of a sudden, a blogger like me and a reporter for The Washington Post were both trolling the Internet for scoops. I will never forget when I got front row seats at the YouTube Presidential Primary Townhall in South Carolina — next to Adam Nagourney, the longtime political reporter for the New York Times. I sat there and I thought, “I’m a blogger, and yet I have the same access as the political reporter for the New York Times.”

What are some career challenges on your radar?

The culture of "success" leaves a lot of us feeling left out, and other. I wrote my book because I have heard too many introverted or anxious professionals say they can’t pursue their dreams of a big career or owning a business because they don’t want to be “out there” all the time.

The modern workplace is a challenge for introverts, those of us with anxiety, or anyone who needs a little more control over the place, pace and space in which they work. My book is a practical and skills based guide to navigate our crazy world of "success" and overwhelming messages like

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

I started off at iVillage.com, learning firsthand the power of connecting women in online community. Then I worked in politics and sent a million online fundraising emails... and then discovered blogging and the power of blogging and online activism for social change. I was hooked: the power of giving voice through your writing, pressing publish and reaching the public, was amazing. I knew I had to create a company around it.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I have the most amazing clients, all of whom are doing their part to make a better world and advance women's places in the world. My company Women Online creates digital campaigns that mobilize women for good. We work with incredible women who are storytellers, creators, and influencers and match them up to the causes they care about. The results are magic!

What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?

One day I might be giving a speech in Washington DC and the next day, playing in the yard with my kids. I like to work "3 days on, 2 days off" working from home in my yoga pants. Being a hermit is a lifestyle choice. It’s different than being an introvert. You might be an introvert if you’re a hermit — you probably are. But there are many introverts who get out there every day, and who build billion dollar companies. Being a hermit means realizing you’re willing to compromise on some things with your business (e.g that billion dollars) in order to have the life you want in the every day. It’s saying, “This is what makes me happy. This is the life I want and I’m going to get the skills to be able to be in my yoga pants three days a week while running a successful operation. I accept some limitations to growth, and I am willing banish to FOMO from my vocabulary to get there.”

Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

Forget balance! There is none. It's about work + life fit, as my friend Cali Yost calls it. My fit is that I like to work in intense bursts, and then have downtime. So things like political campaign season, or releasing a book, is great for me. I work hard for many months, and then can take stock and re-eval. Also, compromise. It's not a dirty word. I have 3 kids, a crazy busy husband, a company, and a book. Trust me, nothing is getting done anywhere near perfectly.

What is the best career advice you ever received?

Always consult before doing (ACBD)

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

I have been a member of Ellevate Boston for many years. In fact, the former head of the Chapter here, Kathleen McQuiggan, has become a mentor and friend. I'm a member because even though members are from diverse backgrounds and career areas they are all bada** serious women.

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