Catching Up with Leadership Speaker Meredith Knopp

Meredith+Knopp+at+Regina+Dominican.+Photo+Courtesy+of%3A+Terril+Vallikalam

Meredith Knopp at Regina Dominican. Photo Courtesy of: Terril Vallikalam

Mary Berg, Editor-in-Chief

Meredith Knopp, Vice President at The Mission Continues, spoke at Regina Dominican on Oct. 8, 2015. Many of us loved her lessons from the military, adorable pictures of her daughter, and the wealth of knowledge that she had to share.

Ms. Knopp stressed the importance of service, and staying true to yourself– two ideals that are an important part of being a Regina girl. Ms. Knopp was a fabulous speaker, and clearly has more to share. After her presentation, Crown did a follow-up interview with her. Read below to hear more from Meredith Knopp.

Now, a few weeks after your presentation, what do you think is the most important piece of advice that we Regina girls should remember?

​There are a few “lessons” that I hope everyone learned– I am not sure I am qualified to give advice, so we’ll call them “Lessons Learned.” Here they are:

  • ​Always stay true to yourself
  • Follow your dreams (and dream big)
  • Know that you absolutely CAN do anything– and even if you fail, you will learn from that, and be stronger because you tried… You’ll never get anywhere by standing still.  ​
  • Lead by example
  • Never miss a chance to make a difference– no matter how small it may seem to you, to the one that you are helping, it could be life changing
  • No regrets– we only have one chance at this amazing journey called life. Don’t regret not doing something because you aren’t sure how it will work out– take a chance; enjoy the journey!
  • Look in mirror and audit your reflections– who you are, who you were, and who you aspire to be…. Do you like what you see?  If not– fix it!  You are the only one who can.
  • Be the leader that you would want to follow.
  • HAVE FUN!

We started to talk more and more about your time in the military during the questions. What would you say is the most important lesson you learned from being a powerful woman in the male-dominated US military?

  • O​ur country is great because of our differences– ​but don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something just because you are different.  Yes, sometimes you have to work harder to earn the respect of others, and when you do, be humble, be gracious. Don’t feed into their stereotypes, just calmly prove them wrong– over and over if you have to– that is how you not only win, but change people’s hearts and minds.
  • And don’t forget– when people say “can’t” they really mean “don’t want to.” Use that. Challenge it in any setting. When people said that I “couldn’t” do something in the military, it was because they “didn’t” want to give it a chance. They liked the way things were… Well, this is your chance to change their minds/perceptions.

Why do you think service-leadership is important for young women?

​ABSOLUTELY!​ Young women are so critical to our communities, setting positive examples, and being role models– and it is incredibly important that young women realize that being a strong leader is just that– being a strong leader– and we need lots and lots of strong women leaders!​ Future generations need to see women taking on leadership roles (large and small) early and often – it is the only way to help ensure that this is seen as the rule, instead of the exception.

You stressed the importance of your own branding in your presentation. If we don’t like our own individual ‘brand’ now, what do you think is the best way to start ‘re-branding’?

​It sounds tough, and it is, but it certainly can be done. Life is about change– new events, teams, schools, adventures– and each time you are given a chance to “start fresh” with people or groups that know nothing about you (that is the easy part) you have a clean canvas, and can redefine your brand. Everyone will only learn/know what they see from that point on, no “past” or preconceived notions.  For the times when you don’t have a “change” coming up and want to start “re-branding” it will take a strong commitment from you, as well as support and a willingness of others to accept the change (clearly the harder of the two).  If you are re-branding because you haven’t been as kind, authentic, or supportive– it starts with apologies, and humility.  You can’t expect everyone to just flip a switch and accept your new brand, but again– over time, and by your words, and your ACTIONS they will start to see the “new” you that should have been there all along.  If you are trying to “re-brand” because you have been trying to live up to what other people wanted you to be or saw you as– that is more on you. To really take a stand, stand up for the real you– and stick to it.  That can be hard– especially with peer pressure and others who may not accept this change– but I can tell you that true friends, and those who really care for and about you. will support you no matter what. And those others? They are toxic, and you need to get away from them anyways.  You never know– maybe you can help influence them to change too, and maybe not– but again, focus on you, and those 3 reflections in the mirror.

Do you have any favorite memories or any reflections about your presentation at Regina that you would like to share?

​I truly didn’t know what to expect that day, and I can honestly say, I felt “at home” instantly.  The energy, amazing questions, and the courtesy that was extended to me in only a short time– I wish that I lived closer so I could be a part of your family, and my daughter would CERTAINLY attend Regina.  I am so excited for each of you, and for those that came up after with questions or hugs, FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!  Life isn’t always easy, and your teenage years are tough– really tough– but I promise you (seriously, I have been through this!) that 10 years from now, it won’t matter who was popular, orwho was “most liked” or what was trending on social media. Focus on you (and your 3 reflections!), what matters to you and your family, and follow your heart– it will never lead you astray.  I wish you all the very best on your journeys, and would be happy to keep in touch with anyone at any time, or answer any questions or support in any way!  You are amazing young women and I am excited for what the future holds for all of you!!!!  Be a better version of yourself today than you were yesterday (always a goal of mine) and your kindness and strength will always shine! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for introducing me to your Regina family. Oh, and my daughter took the hat– she LOVES IT– thanks!!!!

(If you would like to contact Meredith, her email is mknopp@missioncontinues.org​).