The universe sends some of us on quite the trip through life.
I’m not talking about Google Maps’ penchant for sending me into nice neighborhoods when traffic stacks up on Interstate 485. I’m talking about sharp, hairpin turns, the kind that you take on two wheels. The kind that could send you tumbling just as easily.
Today’s #GirlsRock entry will shock you.
It did me. I began this interview with burgers in mind. Sometimes, the best stories in life aren’t the ones you can predict at every turn. They’re richer than that, despite tragedy and comedy, deplorable twists and triumphant returns.
Meet Brandy Macauley, friends.
Brandy works as an innovation project manager for Red Robin, an upscale burger chain. I love burgers, as you know. Red Robin’s bacon cheeseburger is the burger equivalent of season tickets right next to Elizabeth Banks. It’s that good.
Brandy’s story is way better that that.
CD: What did you want to be when you were little?
Brandy: Is it really sad that I can’t remember what I thought I’d grow up to be when I was little? To be completely open and honest, I was very shy and insecure when I was a kid. When I was 12, I was taken advantage of and sexually assaulted by an older man who was supposed to be a family friend. I got pregnant from the assault and kept my son while putting the guy in jail. I was 13 when my son was born. People thought I wouldn’t amount to anything because of what happened to me, so all I remember is thinking that I will prove them differently.
I will show them that I can still be successful. I started out as a server for some time and then in 2006 I got a job at Sprint. I was there seven and a half years and climbed the corporate ladder. I moved up four times in the seven years I was there. I became a project manager at Sprint and got certified in project management. I really enjoy being a project manager because I feel like it’s just my natural ability. I am organized and keep people on task outside of work, so for me, it was cool to get paid for it!
I met my husband when I was 16 and we have been together ever since. He adopted my oldest son and has been a wonderful father to him. We have two other sons together. Not sure if my story is the route you were looking to go for your GirlsRock. I totally understand if you are no longer interested in the interview. =)
CD: You’re right – this wasn’t the direction I envisioned this going! But there’s no way in the world I wouldn’t want to learn more about your road to where you are today. It sounds like you’ve been on an incredible journey. Was there a time you felt like giving up?
Brandy: There were definitely times that I felt like giving up. Shoot, I have been so busy lately that the thought of quitting crossed my mind last week. When I was younger, I didn’t really think about giving up. I was more focused on succeeding and providing a good life for my son. I vowed not to be a victim of my circumstances and I was in no way going to let that guy ruin my life for what he did. I have always been the person who sets a goal and goes after it.
What happened when I was 12 was tragic, but I feel like I grew into a strong woman because of it. For that, I am thankful for who I am and what God has blessed me with.
CD: Goal-setting seems to have landed you a sweet gig with Red Robin. Tell us a little about it.
BM: I am all about setting goals for sure. I believe that I/we can have anything we set our mind to. It all starts with a dream. I saw a quote that says, “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” I believe I am where I am at today because I set goals and always strive for excellence in everything I do. I have learned that excellence isn’t an act, but a habit, and I have made it a habit.
In 2006, I started working at Sprint. I started out as customer support on the phones. Within the year, I worked my way up to a support technician, a year after that I became a Tech II. About a year after that I got into project management. Within my year, I got promoted to a PM II. I got certified in project management about a year and a half after being promoted. About a year after I got my certification, I thought it would be good to venture out and try new things after being with Sprint for 7 1/2 years.
During my time at Sprint, I always set little goals and worked with my boss and a mentor to achieve what I wanted. I believe it is very important to have a mentor in your life. A good mentor will help you stay on track to reach your goals. I left Sprint and started as a PM in IT for a company called Mercury. It is a credit card processing company. Great company, great people, IT just wasn’t for me. I love project management but didn’t have a passion for IT, so I started looking for another job.
Then I landed the job at Red Robin. That is another thing I believe, if you aren’t happy, change it. Don’t be miserable and stay doing something you don’t like just because you’re comfortable. A lot of people waste their lives at a job they don’t like, just because they don’t want to get out of their comfort zone. I am all about getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I love reading personal growth books. I am currently reading 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, By John C. Maxwell.
Great book that I recommend reading. I love positive quotes. I always keep something positive on my desk and phone so that I can see it every day. I currently have a quote on my desktop that says “Don’t be afraid to go where you’ve never gone and to do what you’ve never done, because both are necessary to have what you’ve never had and be who you’ve never been.” Right now on my phone, I have “To change your life, you have to change yourself. To change yourself, you have to change your mindset.”
I read that the person who thinks they can, and the person who thinks they can’t, are both right. I firmly believe that saying is so true. I know that I have gotten where I am today because I chose to believe I can, and I put steps in place to make it happen. =)
CD: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, Brady. What would you tell young girls out there who might be or will someday face what seem to be impossible odds?
Brandy: Stay strong. It’s okay to cry and let it out, but don’t dwell there. Dust yourself off, and keep on pushing through, because you will get through it. It may not feel like it at the time, but you will get through, and how you come out on the other end is all up to you, and how you choose to view it. If you choose, you can come out stronger and wiser because of what you had to go through and the lessons you have learned along the way. I am a firm believer in the saying “what you think about, you bring about.”
If you dwell on the negatives, then negative things will continue to happen. But if you focus on the positive, and look for the good in a bad situation, then you will have joy in your life. People tend to tell me that I have this happy energy around me and that I bring joy to the people around me. It makes me happy to hear that, because that’s what I want is to be happy and make others happy.