Meredith’s story is one of a true ‘American dream’-type. Starting out as a waitress to put herself through school, she worked her way up through the restaurant ranks to become a four-star-Hotel General Manager by age 28; currently she is the owner of Millesime, her own creative achievement and business venture in NYC. Besides Millesime—a premier event venue and restaurant located in the Carlton Hotel— she is still advising companies on a freelance basis and a single mother of three to boot!
Leadership is such a beneficial attribute to have for any business model. When you ask Meredith how she has managed to be so consistent in her leadership abilities between being hands-on and in the more corporate environment, she says, “I think that the reality in any leadership position is if you’re actively engaged in the operation. It’s not particularly difficult as long as you’re pursuing it as if it’s your own business, and looking at it as if it’s your own money… I just always looked at every business I operated as if it was my own.”
Besides ‘owning’ the business, and being inspired by the end result of working your way up to own a business, there are always outside influences that help push you to work hard. Meredith’s inspiration has altered over the years contingent with her experience: “When I was younger, my inspiration was the pace of the business, the excitement of the business, the social interaction, the success in general. Now I think my inspiration is to continue being relevant in a market that is extremely competitive, and finding ways to continually differentiate ourselves—to really be the best that we can be and to continue to grow our strengths. I think that’s my passion now. That and putting three kids through college.”
Role models for Meredith growing up were figures like Chrissie Evert, a no. 1 tennis player for the U.S. in the 70’s, but today are a little more big-picture and geared towards overall success in general rather than particular idols. In her words, “There are corporate giants you could look to, and it doesn’t necessarily matter to me if they’re men or women, there are a lot of people that have changed the world… there are companies that are particularly striking in terms of how crazy they’ve been and how successful they’ve been. Apple is a company that I am entirely envious of. Not only because they are incredibly innovative, they’re almost hostile in the way that they change the market and the way that they antagonize the PC world. They really believe that you’re either with them or you’re not, and if you don’t want to be a believer they don’t really care.” Great mantra for the business world! Specifically for her line of work, though, she says, “In the restaurant world I would say that I am very respectful of Danny Meyer and his organization. I think he’s done a remarkable job at really creating a great deal of structure in a structure-less restaurant community, and growing a footprint in a really thoughtful and meaningful way.”
With her leadership abilities, influences, role models, what does she consider her greatest accomplishments? “Oh my, I like to say that Millesime is actually my greatest accomplishment because of the reality of its size and scope in one of the largest and most competitive markets in the world, and that it’s my creative achievement and my business achievement.”
Meredith is currently working on a collaborative effort with the Bordeaux region of France and still pushing Millesime for the amazing space that it is. When I referred to her as ‘superwoman’ after all of this discussion of her hard work and success, she says, “I mean, it’s not really superwoman, it’s just really trying to figure it out on a daily basis and not getting overwhelmed by it is the first objective.” So good!