Editorial - March 31, 2020

StockX x Women’s History Month | Erin Learoyd

Pete Forester

Pete is a writer, host, and producer based in New York City. He is the Editorial Director of StockX.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we talked with women all over the industry about the other women who have influenced them, ways to support women in our communities, and more.

For this installment, we talked with Domestic Product Development Lead at New Balance, Erin Learoyd. Erin talks about what mentorship has taught her, the importance of self-trust, and the power of incremental positive change.

This interview has been lightly edited.

Who are the women who have influenced you?

There have of course been many women, both within and outside the industry, who have influenced me.  However, one woman stands out.  A few years ago, I participated in a program called Budget Buddies that pairs low-income women with female “coaches,” then brings both women through six-months of financial literacy classes.  When I met Shivana (name changed for her privacy), she was looking for a path forward after her alcoholic and abusive husband took everything they had and left.  Shivana had originally immigrated to the US on her own to escape an abusive father, but once married, her work permit expired.  She was alone, facing homelessness, unable to work to support her daughter, and her immigration status was in jeopardy.

Today, Shivana has her green card, works at an international company managing one of their largest regional accounts, and lives in a comfortable apartment with her daughter.  In addition to being inspiring, the lessons of Shivana’s story continue to influence me.  She taught me:

  • The value of conversations.  The business world calls it “networking,” but it’s really just getting to know the people around you.
  • To admit when you need help, and to ask for the help you need.  It’s a great way to learn something new, and it can prevent a bad situation from becoming much worse.
  • The importance of being your authentic self, always.
  • That “setbacks” and “failures” are still steps forward in your path of life.  If you can really internalize this idea, it takes a lot of the sting out of an objectively negative experience.  It doesn’t mean that things won’t still be hard, or sad, or unfair, but it can provide a larger context that might help you take your next step with purpose.

What is the most overrated and underrated thing at the moment?

Overrated: Quinoa.  I just can’t get into it.

Underrated: Empathy, especially for someone with whom we disagree.  You probably believe you’re a decent human who tries their best and acts in good faith.  Chances are, the other person believes the exact same thing about themselves.  In other words, you’re just like them.  If we all start from that premise, it changes both the conversation and the way in which we have it.

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would you say?

I would tell her, “Trust yourself.  It’s okay to want validation – most of us need that on some level. But, if something doesn’t feel right, you know you’re not going to do it.  Likewise, if something feels right – like so right you can’t help yourself – you’re going to do it, everything else be damned.  It’s the way you’re built, so trust that, lean into it.  It will take you so many great places, and none of them are nearly as scary as what you imagine.”

What is something we can all do, regardless of gender, to lift the voices of women in our communities? 

Three things. First, take the time to listen.  There are so many voices, so many messages, constantly coming at you.  If you’re always telling your own story, you won’t hear hers, so make space for listening.

Second, signal boost.  Don’t tell her story for her, just give her your mic.  Whether you’re a celebrity with a million followers, or a manager who occasionally gets time with senior leaders, if you have a platform, let her use it.

Third, follow her lead.  She wants you to use your own voice to help her reach a certain audience?  Great.  She wants you to disengage, to leave the haters and trolls alone in their own echo chamber?  No problem.  She wants you to stop asking what she wants and just do your own damn thing?  That’s fine, too.  Every woman is different.  On anything related to her, follow her lead.

What’s next for you?

To me, a good day is any one in which I feel like I made a difference.  I try my best to do this in small ways, as often as possible.  As a fortune cookie once told me, “Little and often makes much.”  I believe that my small differences will add up so that when it’s my time to go, I will leave things better than I found them.  In that way, what’s next is the same as what’s been – wake up, do your best, keep trying for positive change.