I’m known to most of the Chicago social scene as a top-ranked DJ and sales manager for Fig Media, a hip events company specializing in film, photo, and video for events and weddings. Over the last ten years I’ve DJ’d Internationally, opened for Maroon 5, been voted Chicago’s Top DJ, and worked on creative projects with famous directors like David Schwimmer. And at the same time, I’ve been on journey of developing my leadership—whether it’s with brides and grooms or the staff I’m training.
Why I’m Getting a Degree in Leadership
When I decided to further my education, I looked at MBA programs but ultimately chose Wright’s Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership and Coaching because of the curriculum’s focus on developing me as a leader, not just helping me learn the same stuff that everyone else is learning.
I used to be a person who plays nice and let my hunger to connect drive me to the point of just going along with what others say or plan. I’ve sometimes chosen to be liked rather than to be respected, and while I’ve been successful in gaining a followership by being delightfully likeable, this way of leadership has its limits.
At WGU, we study topics ranging from psychology to neuroscience to human behavior—but most importantly, we study our own behavior and our personal power. As part of our Performative Learning curriculum, each week we have a new assignment to try out new behaviors and challenge our beliefs about ourselves and the world. The goal of these assignments is to increase our leadership and ability to have influence on the world around us.
Increasing My Influence Through Displeasing Others
I took this week’s Performative Learning assignment as a chance to challenge my misconceptions about leadership and influence—to make things different by “displeasing with ease.”1
I was well aware of my fear of displeasing people, including irrational ideas about the backlash I would receive, but when I displeased this week it was usually because I wanted something more for myself or expected more of others.When I noticed myself getting bored with what another person was saying I stayed engaged and chose to give them honest feedback instead of tuning out.
This week in Wright’s Advantage for Sales program, someone in my class shared an excuse about why his sales have been down recently. I know that he is capable of doing better work, so I pointed out that he has a history of always having an excuse or story to cover up his lack of sales.
Saying that out loud felt risky because I was confronting him instead of letting his excuses slide. In the end, I felt more powerful by staying engaged, and even though he was uncomfortable with what I said my feedback helped him shift his behavior.
Being Powerful by Risking More
I did all this with an awareness of Kahneman and Tversky’s research on Loss Aversion, which suggests we are more aware of the pain of loss than the pleasure of potential gain.2 As I was about to displease people I noticed many times I would jump to thinking about a loss (like their friendship, or their good will) rather than thinking about the gain for my personal leadership development.
As I practiced this week with displeasing others by creating my own boundaries, letting people know who I am and what I am willing to do, what I’m okay with, and what I expect, I became more powerful. By asserting myself and my desires instead of focusing on pleasing others, I was choosing, no matter what, to approve of myself and love myself, even in the face of other’s disapproval.3
As a leader, I need to be willing to take risks. I need to be willing to stick my neck out and disagree with those around me. I need to stand out and stand for something. Like the other leadership assignments I have been doing through the Wright Graduate University, this one has been eye-opening for me as I grow in my leadership, gain more influence on those around me, and my develop my ability to be powerful in every situation I encounter.
 Year of Transformation, Week 6. Displease with Ease, pdf.
Tversky, Amos, and Daniel Kahneman. “Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model.” www2.uah.es. http://www2.uah.es/econ/MicroDoct/Tversky_Kahneman_1991_Loss%20aversion.pdf.
Megan Taylor has worked with Fig Media, an agency specializing in film, photography, and DJ’s, for the past 10 years. She has been recognized for her leadership and as a creative producer in her community. She also has become a permanent fixture in Chicago’s hottest events and venues. Megan’s innovative and fresh DJing has been a hit with partygoers everywhere from international venues to signature corporate events.
Megan is known for her electric rare cuts and powerful, vivacious personality. She has held several residencies in Chicago and is often hired as a music consultant. Her clients & past events include: Chanel, Vogue, Nike, E! Entertainment, Dwayne Wade, Robbie Gold, Maroon 5, Sara Barellis, and many top charity events.