Mary Gregory is an American author and poet. She has authored Travels Through Aqua, Green, and Blue and The Great LeadHERship Awakening. She has a poetry blog, Urban Honesty, which focuses on compassion, forgiveness, and honesty. By day, Gregory is a senior leader in IT for a Fortune 500 company in the entertainment industry.
Gregory grew up as the youngest of three children in Nashville, Tennessee, but now resides in California.
You’re a Senior Leader in IT for a Fortune 500 Company and have a new book out, The Great LeadHERship Awakening. In an industry highly driven by males, why do you think it’s so important for more women to have leading roles in the business world?
I never personally knew a powerful female role model growing up. Unless you count the women on television. I saw reruns of the show Wonder Woman, played by Lynda Carter, which showed me what beauty and physical power looked like. I watched television dramas like T.J. Hooker and idealized Heather Locklear who played a female police officer. But it wasn’t until I saw The Cosby Show and witnessed Clair Huxtable, Phylicia Rashad’s character play a lawyer, that I saw the power of women who can lead the home and have a profession. Though I never saw Clair in the workplace, Ally McBeal gave me the dramatic glimpse into a powerful woman. To say I got my ideals of what powerful women are from television is obviously an understatement.
The power of seeing women who have professional roles, even if only on television, helped me to imagine what opportunities I may have for myself. In business, women walk the hallways of our companies, attend meetings, and watch and listen for women who are exercising their power and influence and getting promoted.
Women are running company’s, departments, and division’s but we don’t always get to see that. There are a lot of roles that we just don’t have visibility into, but they are out there, and women are doing them, they’re just not on television.
It’s important for women to have leading roles in live entertainment because of the incredible reach this platform has to inspire and amplify a positive message that will one day be another woman’s aspiration.
We’re all about supporting girl power in today’s world and this book is sure to inspire many women. Can you talk to us about your own inspiration, or role model, in your life?
I’m inspired by so many people in my life, and often, I’m inspired by those on my team who are working hard to do their job, but also finding ways to grow personally and professionally. I know what it takes to pursue your goals and it can be tough to find the time. I read two great books last year, The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna, and The One Thing by Gary Keller and immediately bought copies for my team.
These books teach you how to determine your musts often buried in your shoulds. I was shown how to identify my musts, which make me feel fulfilled and happy – things like creativity time, connection time, and exercise, and what I must do to keep the ship running. By combining my musts, with a daily focus on the most important thing that I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is unnecessary, I developed a formula to feel accomplished and less stressed.
The women and men in my life who are able to apply these two practices consistently, absolutely inspire and motivate me to continue listening to my heart. This is why all the women who co-wrote The Great LeaderHERship Awakening are so inspiring, because they embody their most important musts, their truths, and live their lives each day as inspirational leaders. You’ll read each story and understand why they’re each owning their superpowers.
You’re not only authoring books, but you’ve published a memoir, an adult coloring book, and created a poetry blog. What is the most important thing you’ve learned by letting your creativity flow across various spectrums?
Words are magical and fluid, and I like that I let myself represent their messages in different forms. Sometimes I want to physically write something on a paper with a sharpie pen on a large oversized Post-It note stuck to my wall, which is how I like to write my poetry. Or I’ll want to put images to words, like I did with the coloring book. I like to break up the mediums so that I fulfill my need for creative expression and never get bored.
Since creating the coloring book, I’ve been inspired to write a writing prompt book that I’m calling, Your Ideas Are Gold, that will include visual elements and thoughtful prompts for teasing out your best ideas.
As a coloring enthusiast myself, I’ve certainly completed some adult coloring books over the years. Can you describe your process to create this type of work?
I loved creating the coloring book, Find Your Harmony, because I challenged myself to create an interactive visual project, which I’d never done before. Once I decided that the theme would be positive affirmations, I was able to let each page be its own creative piece and it was important for me to create an overall chill and positive vibe. Being someone who has the spirit of her child very close to her heart, I created the coloring book to be a happy and uplifting experience for anyone, not just adults.
I had a list of affirmations I had been squirreling away and then looked at images and designs that I felt melded well with the affirmation, and then I’d start crafting the design. Sometimes I’d need to scrap images and elements or put the piece on the back burner and wait for a new day of inspiration.
There are so many distractions in this world, but when you think about being a kid and just coloring, chances are you have fond memories. It delights me that I can give adults this experience again.
What really meant a lot to me was having my mother-in-law and her twin, who live in Belgium, and who had never colored in an adult coloring book before, love coloring it. They each sent me pictures of the pages they’d colored, and it was fun to see how different they’d approached the pages. It brought me great joy to know I’d created something they loved. Now they buy coloring books often and it’s one of their favorite pastimes.
Do you have any hobbies outside of the work world that you enjoy in your spare time?
For years I managed a co-ed softball team that I had no business starting, but I was on a sabbatical after several years of working for myself during the Great Recession, and I wanted to get back to team sports and consistent exercise. The team has been going 12 years strong now. Though my knees gave up years ago and I’m no longer able to play the sport, I spend my time with low-impact exercises that I love like hot yoga, walking, and swimming.
My other hobby is cooking, though I’m a closeted cooker still. I introduced two items to the kitchen that have empowered me to take on cooking in my own way. The Instant Pot and the Air Fryer. Without these two appliances, I’d still be too intimidated by the world of cooking, as my European husband has been the main chef in the house for most of our marriage and his recipes and skills are wide and varying and very intimidating.
But now that I’m gluten free, this has required me to take food recipes into my own hands. Surprisingly, I’m not too bad and my creativity has been flourishing, and my husband now wants me to cook most nights.