Have you ever met a woman that is legit a human pep talk? That is the only way to describe Maxie McCoy, and you get this feeling the instant you follow her, read her book, see her speak, or meet her in person. Not only does she cheerlead women the world over, she’s also not afraid of cheerleading herself — and you can’t help but want to pat yourself on the back for your own accomplishments after spending even just a few minutes with her.
I met Maxie when she moderated a panel I spoke on at Create & Cultivate. We bonded over a shared interest in bright colors, feminism, and unconventional career paths. Without launching into a bit of a love story about how happy I am to have this powerhouse babe in my corner, I can tell you that she is here to help you find your way.
Maxie first came into the B+C fold back when she worked at Levo League, and she taught an online class on How to Boost Your Productivity — still a v. relevant topic for all y’all trying to work your day job and pursue your passion on the side.
Her recently published (!!!) book You’re Not Lost, is all about the journey to finding your path, finding your way, and finding your calling. From being a pro sports broadcaster to straight up praying to Oprah on the daily, I’m pumped to bring you the latest installment of Creative Crushin’ — all about Maxie McCoy!
Brit + Co: Ground us in your roots. Where did you grow up? What did you study?
Maxie McCoy: Born in Iowa, raised in Texas, college in Pennsylvania, adulting in San Francisco. I’ve been all over! My heart will always be in the south where my family is, but the Bay Area is home now.
I studied Journalism in school, which was always the plan. I’ve been a writer since I could write. My very first book (printed by Matthew’s Elementary Horseshoe Press) was the Magnificent Life of Maxie McCoy. It was a two-part volume. Ha! I like to believe my book writing skills have gotten better (and less prophetic) since.
B+C: Before you set off on your own, what did your career path look like?
MM: I was 100 percent going into a sports related career. It was always my intention. As an athlete my whole life and in college, it’s what I knew. At first I thought I’d do communications for a professional team, but then when I interned at ESPN, one of the executives in the comms department that I was contributing to pulled me aside and advised me to go on camera. He said I had the natural chops and presence to do it. That’s how I ended up setting off on the path to be a sports broadcaster. I did some other internships and part time work at NFL Films and then Fox Sports Southwest in Dallas.
B+C: How did you make the leap from sports broadcaster to career expert?
MM: Via a long road called LOST AF. I realized pretty quickly once I got into the broadcasting world that this was not what I wanted to be doing for my life. It wasn’t resonating. And it wasn’t fulfilling. Reading sports scores off of a teleprompter started to lose it allure real quickly. I moved from Dallas to San Francisco, where I took another job that was still in sports but was a non-profit, thinking the purpose of the mission would fulfill me. And that didn’t help either. I had a good amount of years feeling like maybe I peaked in college.
But then, at the depths of feeling super lost in my life, I went back to what energized me… both the topics and the skill sets that always had given me life. That was writing and women’s issues. And I decided to do something about it by signing up for a writing class at the SF Writer’s Grotto and working on a book proposal about women and their careers. Through that class I found Levo, a platform that at the time was just launching to support millennial women and their careers, and I ended up becoming one of the early employees. I built and grew the local, offline communities in 30-cities around the world. It was through talking to those women, creating the curriculum that was executed in experiential formats, and facilitating the advice of so many experts back into those communities that I ended up where I am today. And it all came down to one tiny decision to sign up for a writing class!
B+C: Tell me more about your personal mission / that driving force or north star that gets you up and at ‘em every morning.
MM: The global rise of women. I’m on this earth to use my talents to remind women of theirs. It’s what drives everything that I create. Because if I can be here to facilitate women’s stories, to give them a voice, to remind them of their deep and limitless power, then we’ll all rise together.
B+C: Why do you want to share your point of view with the world?
MM: Because there’s a real power in knowing we’re not alone. When we share how we see the world, when we’re honest with what’s really happened or what we’re really feeling or what we’re really going through, that’s where solutions are born. Because we can come together knowing that others have experienced what we’ve experienced and we can join forces to build something better.
And also because I think women are the best damn thing on the planet. So the more I get to cheerlead how freaking unstoppable we all are, the more I’m certain we’ll change this world for good.
B+C: How did you know that your unique take on finding your path needed to become a book? Tell us about the inception of You’re Not Lost.
MM: I didn’t! For a long time. But then the book started brewing inside of me. I joke that I literally felt pregnant with it. There’s only so many times I could hear “I feel so lost” before it hit me over the head like a sack of bricks and a neon sign that said, Girl, this is your book!
But I really doubted myself in the beginning. Who am I to answer this? What expertise do I have? Who will listen? Will it be any good? What if it’s not actually helpful? All of that crap bubbled up big time. But under the crap was a deep knowing that this book was given to me through the thousands of conversations with women over the years while I was building out the global communities at Levo. I’m the messenger for this solution, which means I get to layer my own fresh lens on what we’re all going through. The creative muse had her eye on me. Luckily, I decided to follow her past my really loud doubt and some pretty big obstacles to getting my book deal.
B+C: Girl, how hard is it to write a book? What were the biggest challenges during the writing process? What were your favorite moments?
MM: How much time do we have? Ha! Writing a book has truly, with no exaggeration, been my favorite thing that I’ve ever done. It’s been the most creatively intense experience. And it’s also been so hard. The hardest thing about the writing was getting to the writing. There’s so much swirl in your head of what you should say, what’s already out there, what’s lame, what’s helpful, what’s true... that it can put up some really tall walls to actually getting your bootie in the chair to just write. I had to do a lot of protecting of my energy and of my voice in order to write the best book I could. I didn’t read a lot of self help or other people’s career books/newsletters. When I needed to create, I didn’t keep my phone on and would let people know “I’m in the writing hole” on the days and morning I was cranking.
But my favorite moments were by far the feeling I got when I wrote a sentence that I just freaking loved. Because it was exactly what I wanted to say. Because it sounded beautiful. Because it meant something. Those moments meant everything to me.
B+C: Why do you feel that it’s important to create supportive environments for women to help each other grow?
MM: NONE of us do this alone. When I look at this book being brought to life, no joke, it took a damn village at every turn. From getting my agent, to getting the deal, to writing, to editing, to marketing it. I mean I probably have a list of 100 women then I’m indebted to for like ever.
But that’s how big things happen. And I have that support because I’ve spent a lot of time supporting all of those women at various points in their careers. That’s how we cultivate supportive ecosystems — we believe in the women around us, and we believe that when the time comes that they’ll do the same for us. My friend Carly put it so perfectly when she said, “The more successful you are, the more successful I am.” And that’s my motto with championing other women.
B+C: On that note, what does *your* support system look like? Do you have mentors, community groups, etc. that help you thrive?
MM: All of it. Not only do they help me thrive, they simply keep me breathing. The ups and downs of a creative life are wild, and without my support system, I really couldn’t do this work. I’m lucky to have some amazingly wise mentors who can tell me all the things I don’t even know to know. I have an incredible family that’s my foundation and rock. And then there’s my women. These women who are peer mentors and best friends are my entire life. They’re emotional support, they’re brilliant as hell, they’re free executive coaching, they’re my door openers and cheerleaders. They believe in me when I don’t believe in myself. And being on the receiving end of that is why I can thrive.
B+C: Who are some fellow boss ladies our readers should know about?
MM: Where do I start!?
Ashley Longshore, she’s this wild and wonderful artist (and an interview in my book!)
Latham Thomas, for any and all things self care. One of my dearest.
Carly Heitlinger, the one above who gave me that epic quote on supporting each other.
Baily Hancock, who can strategize the crap out of any career woe.
B+C: And what girl power books should we add to our coffee table / nightstand / e-reader?
WorkParty by my girl Jaclyn Johnson
Myth of the Nice Girl by Fran Hauser (who is basically chief mentor of women)
Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte (so good for anyone figuring out their biz)
Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu
Build Your Dream Network by Kelly Hoey
Favorite Quote: “This is what I know for sure: You don't get what you hope for. You don't get get what you wish for. You get what you believe.” - Oprah
Trivia About You: I have an Oprah devotional candle that I light religiously
Go-To Karaoke Song: "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls
Late Night Snack: Melted peanut butter. Is that so weird?? (Don’t answer that.)
Currently Reading: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran — I’m on a fiction binge in 2018!!
B+C: When you’re feeling burnt out, how do you reset?
MM: Away from my devices. I’ve realized that’s what drains me the most. My relationships bring me back to feeling full. Nature brings me back. A good book brings me back. A workout does too. Whatever I’m doing to reset, the reset has to include extended time away from the digital BS.
B+C: Over drinks you mentioned to me that you love painting — tell me more about this. What do you love about having a creative practice that has nothing to do with work?
MM: Everything!!! I developed this tradition years ago of hand-painting gold quotable new year’s cards for all my nearest and dearest. And then I expanded that to mini canvases. Now I have a big one I’m working on. When I’m able to be creative outside of the creative that pays me, it makes me feel alive. We’re born to create. That creation doesn’t have to make us money (while amazing when it can!). Simply the energy it gives us, the different part of the brain it turns on, the flow we get into… it’s a really special thing that I think positive affects other parts of our life.
B+C: How do you decide what to pursue and what to say no to? What advice can you give to folks who are navigating yeses + nos with regard to their personal brand?
MM: I’m a gut girl. I look for BIG yeses. And also BIG nos. And there’s a pretty big delta between those that I don’t think will kill us if we say yes to something we should have said no to or vice versa. No one gets this 100 percent right. And honestly, I’m having a year where I’m saying yes to all kinds of things because I feel expansion happening and I need to see which direction that’s going in. Whereas, last year all I did was say no because I had to focus on writing a book.
When it comes to our personal brand, I think knowing why you exist will help you sort out what those big yeses are. Knowing what you stand for in the world will also help people bring you things that will clearly be a big yes. But also remember that we can’t and don’t stay the same forever, so the only way to continue re-inventing in a fast-paced, ever changing world is to be consistent with your why, and flexible on the how.
B+C: Now for some words of wisdom. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
MM: Be the highest possible expression of yourself. It’s one of the core tenets that I live my life by. If I’m not able to be fully expressed, in my work, in my relationships, in my voice, then it’s not right for me.
Being more of ourselves, rather than less of ourselves, can be hard. Because we have so many external messages telling us to be something we’re not. But molds are limits. So the more we can look at everything we believe we need to change before we’ll “be successful” and NOT change those things but rather magnify them, the more expressed and sincere we’ll be.
B+C: What advice do you wish someone told you when you were just starting out?
MM: You don’t have to have the big picture all figured out in order to begin. And that no one actually knows what the heck they’re doing. But the people who are successful and fulfilled are the ones taking small step after small step into this unknown any how.
B+C: In five years, where do you see yourself?
MM: Zero idea. Because five years ago, I never could have seen the magic that’s currently existing. But what I do know is this: I’ll still be using my talents, my voice, my platform, and my heart to support women every chance I get. And I’ll still be creating.
B+C: What’s up next in the adventures of Ms. Maxie McCoy? What should we be on the lookout for?
MM: Lots of audio!!! I’m working on some inspiring, daily audio pep talks that you can get every day in an app called Reflectly, which is a daily gratitude journal. I’m having so much contributing to this new medium and being part of a product that can really support our own optimism and growth.
Whew, y’all ready to go out and conquer the world / your passion / your to-do list? To keep up with all things McCoy, follow her @maxiemccoy, and be sure to check her website for book tour dates so you can get inspired by this brilliant gal in person.