Trust. Honesty. Reliability. These are the qualities you look for in the people you want to surround yourself with in and outside of work. Meghan Collins is the epitome of these qualities and is a reason that I enjoy all of the interactions that we have with each other.
At work, you can trust that what she is going to deliver will be above and beyond initial expectations. For Meghan, it’s not about just getting the job done, but getting it done to the highest levels of professionalism. It’s the reason so many people rely on her to support various initiatives. Things like identification and execution of content strategies, tactic brainstorms, editorial team membership, and The Cause for the ‘Cuse. She impacts the company in so many ways, all because she cares about moving Terakeet forward. Sometimes it can be hard to find employees that truly care about their work, and Meghan is one of those rare breeds.
Outside of work, you can count on Meghan to hear you out and provide honest feedback. Many times I’ve leaned on her advice to figure out how to handle various situations at work and at home. She has become a trusted advisor of mine and I appreciate the time and attention that she has given to those conversations. She has inspired me to grow both personally and professionally so I was excited to be the one to feature her as Terakeet’s next employee spotlight.
Without further adieu, Internet, I give you Meghan Collins.
You are one of the most creative people I’ve met. (Ever seen someone restore an old ambulance into a camper?) What drove you to build the Jambulance and how does that creativity apply at work?
My husband Ryan and I were camping at Mountain Jam Music Festival on the side of Hunter Mountain in the Catskills when I told him we needed a different van to camp out of. We were using his 1967 Chevy Sportvan for the festival, which is very fitting for Woodstock country. But the Sportvan was more of a showpiece than a workhorse. I wanted a rugged van that felt just as much mine as it was Ryan’s.
When we first agreed to shop for another van, I remember telling Ryan I wanted to make sure we bought something interesting. The beauty of the ‘67 Sportvan is that it has its own story and allows us to meet other people on our travels who appreciate clever lodging and vehicles with history. Ryan started an eBay hunt for a diesel van and, a few weeks later, we drove to Philadelphia to pick up our girl, an extended body Ford Econoline from a Pennsylvania fire department.
Dubbed the Jambulance on her maiden voyage to Delaware for the Firefly Music Festival, we knew we bought something special immediately. Today, with kayak racks on the roof where there was once a light bar, and stickers from places we’ve visited instead of fire department decals, Jamby connects us with strangers on each trip we take together.
I think you can start to see where this connects back to work. I have a habit of personifying seemingly mundane things, giving objects and situations a voice and a story. Writing means continually searching for the story behind every brand and topic and it’s what keeps me challenged and excited to write at work each day.
What are the life lessons you’ve learned through your experience with the Jambulance?
The first lesson is you can buy almost anything on eBay. Seriously.
Another lesson Jamby taught me is about balance. Did I try to convince Ryan to give up our life in New York and hack it on Instagram with the rest of the van dwellers? Of course I did. What a great, romantic story! The minimalist movement and the #VanLife trend cause people to romanticize the idea of owning a van you can potentially live out of, but our reality is even better – it’s balanced. We have a home that’s our adventure headquarters where we can live a modest life and work hard while planning our next trip. And we have the Jambulance, a little slice of metal heaven that is our vehicle, literally and figuratively, to our next great story. Adventure is all around us, people.
You’ve been at Terakeet for almost 7 years. Throughout that time, what is one of the most important things you’ve learned?
The most important thing my experience at Terakeet has taught me is to ask better questions. There have also been plenty of experiences that have given me humility, confidence, grit, and more, but the lesson about asking better questions has had an impact on my work and personal life.
Sitting down with an individual or a team to ask questions and poke holes in a new project forces people to come to a new and hopefully stronger idea than before. I ask questions in meetings because I also want to be an icebreaker for someone else in the room. If I’m confused in a meeting, most likely someone else is too. Speaking up and asking questions helps everyone learn more.
Most importantly, sometimes the best question to ask is for help. In a competitive work environment, it can seem damning to admit you need help or don’t know something, but it’s the key to personal growth.
What advice would you give someone that has just started at Terakeet?
I’m going to sound like a broken record, but question everything. A guy I know who leads the analytics team preaches the same concept! The idea I try to explicitly share with new team members during training sessions is that we don’t hire people to fall in line exactly with the way we’ve been doing things. Learn our processes, then apply your own creative ideas and life experiences to help the company learn new ways to connect with people and brands online.
You’ve worn many hats in the time that I’ve worked here, but they all seem to have something to do with strategically using content to achieve results and problem-solving in general. What is it that makes you so good in that role? Where does your ability to continually come up with great ideas in these situations come from?
I’ve always felt that one of my biggest strengths is my ability to pull ideas out of people. Much like a teacher, which I always thought I was going to be growing up, I get a lot of joy out of working out ideas with individuals and teams. People assume that because I read, research, and write each day that I am an endless well of ideas, but I fill my well each time I ask and learn about others’ notions and experiences. I like to think my ability to work with people and make them more comfortable and confident in sharing their own ideas helps me become a better and more strategic writer.
Which of our five core values (Sustainable Value, Integrity, Invention, Entrepreneurship or Rapid Response) do you identify with most and why?
I identify with integrity the most out of the five core values. I believe that going through your work and personal life with integrity may not get you in the winner’s circle every time, but getting there without it will most likely find you there alone. If my co-workers and friends know that I try to do what’s best for the team and our clients with honesty and hard work, then I feel successful.