Emily Merell, Founder of Six Degrees Society
Ah, no surprise that we are featuring yet another #GIRLBOSS.
Emily and I met through friends of friends because we had mutual concepts in events. I was more than happy to meet the woman who founded Six Degrees Society and ask a million of questions on how she launched a successful business. As we began exchanging our stories and life missions, we both agreed that they are very similar - bringing women together. From that first breakfast date, Emily and I have continued to support each other in our own endeavors and have breakfast dates.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Growing up I always wanted to be a therapist. Actually, scratch that, I wanted to be a talk show host. So essentially a therapist with a camera, and of course, I would give away cool products like Oprah! I've always had a peculiar craving to listen to people’s stories and understand them better. I've been told that I'm a natural conversationalist (translation: I can talk to a houseplant and have a thrilling convo.)
Where did you grow up? Did your surroundings influence your path in life?
I spent my early childhood in the South Florida area (Delray Beach) and moved to New Canaan, Connecticut when I was 12 years old. At 12 I was introduced to New York City and with it the theater and pulse of the city that never sleeps.
I knew from a very young age that NYC was where I wanted to end up. I had no idea what job would get me there or what path would lead me there, but I knew that I was destined to be a New Yorker. However, after college I moved to Argentina, which is where I first got to create a network from scratch. The year was 2009, and finding any job in NYC - let alone my dream job - was next to impossible. Buenos Aires was the perfect place to try my hand at various start-ups, pitch in on volunteer opportunities, and strengthen a foreign language. Lo and behold, a woman I met while networking in Buenos Aires made the introduction for my first job in NYC. So it goes to show, if I hadn’t taken the leap to go outside of my comfort zone, live in a new country and network with anyone and everyone, I might not have had the insights and courage that led me to create Six Degrees Society.
You founded Six Degrees Society. When did you realize you wanted to help others further themselves in their careers?
think I’ve always wanted to help people further themselves in their careers. I love finding a solution to other people’s problems. It was something that evolved out of my first temp job where I eventually ended up managing interns and working with freelancers and temps. I realized that there is a hierarchy that exists in the corporate world, and temp and interns were treated as such a disposable entity that I found myself naturally gravitating toward them. Six Degrees Society evolved when people came to me for advice on job searches, LinkedIn introductions and questions about their business. The solution to me was to invite all of these people to be in one room with one another (recruiters, entrepreneurs, job seekers, career coaches) and make authentic in-person introductions and connections.
What do you think is the biggest struggle women go through in their careers and in life?
I think women struggle with not getting the recognition for the job they are doing. One of the biggest complaints I hear is that their boss criticizes more than he/she praises. Or that she feels stuck. Stuck can mean so many different things but it encompasses her salary, her position, her company, or even a feeling of not learning anything new. I’ve noticed that more men have mentors or people inspiring them than women and with Six Degrees Society I hope to change that balance.
What was the best advice you have ever given to a client and the best advice you have ever received?
I always tell people to live in the present and see how things unfold. We stress so much about the perfect dream job, and once we achieve it we find ourselves disappointed by the situation we are in. The best advice I’ve ever received was to be yourself. No one wants to do business with someone who isn’t authentic.
Would you like to leave us off with a fun fact about yourself?
I was born with four extra adult teeth, like a shark! I had the 4 teeth removed along with my wisdom teeth during my freshman year of high school. One oral surgeon I went told me he’d never seen anything like this. I took it to mean I was a little more exotic than everyone else which has explained how I march to the beat of my own drum.
Interviewed by Chary + Em