Q&A with Play Expert Meredith Sinclair

Inspiring more purposeful acts of playfulness for your every day. That’s Meredith Sinclair’s mission!

Meredith, a mom of two teenage boys, has dedicated her life to preaching PLAY! She started out by writing a blog and doing local television in Chicago. But, as her boys got older, she knew she wanted to preach play to a larger audience. Now, she can be seen as a frequent TODAY Show contributor and she recently published her first book, “Well Played. The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit“.

We recently caught up with her to hear how she found her niche and turned it into a successful brand.

How did you find that idea that started your blog, which ultimately led to your book? 

I had been blogging for a few years on all things motherhood…a pretty traditional “mom blog” back in the day. I was searching my true “niche”. Then I heard a speaker at one of the blogging conferences I attended talk about the power of PLAY in corporate and personal situations and I began to cry. I knew I’d found the thing I wanted to explore and share.

How did you know your idea was something that you were going to make happen?

Fast forward to a couple years after I heard the talk on PLAY, and I was asked to do my own TED-like talk at a different conference. I did a 5 minute presentation on why human beings need and long for playfulness in our lives, and how it enhances our lives as parents when we take time to play as well. Afterward I had bunches of moms approach me with tears in their eyes telling me they needed to hear my message and planned to incorporate more play in their everyday. I knew then that I was going to make this my mission. Preaching the gospel of PLAY to the masses.

What was the biggest fear you had to overcome to take that first step?

I think my biggest fear and the thing I’ve had to confront several times over the last 10 years is caring too much about what other people may think. I’ve learned over and over again to “stay in my lane” and focus on my own race. Looking too much at the sidelines and what people may or may not be shouting from there is super distracting. Surround yourself with folks who can help keep you swimming fast and forward, who’s opinions you really trust, and then just keep swimming!

 What is the biggest fear you are still knocking down every day to keep your business moving forward?

Being “enough” doing “enough” hustling “enough”. I’m a competitive person by nature…and most competitive with my own self. And when you’re creating a brand from scratch, it’s all about the hustle. Everyday.   As I’ve gotten a little older I’m finally allowing myself to relax into the process, disconnect from the constant social stream and hustle MOST days, but not all.

Who has been your biggest cheerleader?

My extended family as a whole have stood on the sidelines pom poms in hand as I’ve built this brand cheering loud and proud. But my husband in his very calm, quiet, sensible, support has been the loudest cheerleader of all.

Who was your first client or paid advertising? Do you remember when you first started making money?

It’s so exciting when you get that first paid gig after years of doing work for “exposure”. I think my first paid job for my brand was as a spokesperson with Razor at TOY FAIR in New York. I had so much fun representing them and playing my way to a pay check.

What is something you do for self-care?

Afternoon power naps, pilates, long canyon walks with my dog, yoga, and organizing girlfriend gatherings at my home. And leaving my phone at home now and again.

 How do you balance work with family life?

I have gotten really good at working efficiently from 8am-3pm and then shutting it down for a few hours when my son gets home from school. Living in LA helps, I have to say. I do a lot of work with folks in New York and by 3pm West Coast time, the East Coasters are wrapping up! I’m traveling a lot more now for work and my husband and I work very hard to coordinate and juggle our travel so one parent is always home. It usually works well…until it doesn’t and then we figure it out. It’s a team effort for sure.

What do you hope your children are learning from you?

I think my boys have (hopefully) witnessed what can happen when you work hard and smart at something. And learned that it’s possible to create something you love from nothing at all.

Oh, and that no dream is too big…it usually just takes lots and lots of baby steps and a few big leaps to get there.

What advice would you give women just starting out?

First, find the thing that lights you up. The thing you can’t stop talking and thinking about. Then surround yourself with positive people and just begin to explore. Sometimes we want it all right NOW. The biggest advice is to do the work of building a strong foundation for whatever company you want to pursue. For me that involved years of unpaid, early morning TV segments, schlepping my stuff down to Chicago in the wee hours of the morning to do segments for very few viewers. It wasn’t glamorous but it was a brilliant training ground. So when the TODAY Show came knocking, I was ready. Do the undercover work, so that you’re really ready for your big break.

What’s next?

I’ve recently moved to Los Angeles and I’m giddy about the possibilities in LA LA LAND! It really does feel like that city is sprinkled with pixie dust. I’m finally not a one-woman show, as I’ve recently hired a management team and it’s been super fun to collaborate for the first time on this brand I’ve been building alone for 10 years. I’m appearing on Home and Family on the Hallmark Channel which is a new fun show for me, I’m pondering my next book…possibly a children’s series, I’m working as a spokesperson for several brands, and we’re now pitching playfully creative show concepts to production companies in LA. I also think I have a product line in my future…still figuring that one out.

What is your go-to singing –  top of your lungs, windows – down in a car song?

RIO by Duran Duran. I still have a crush on John Taylor.

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