Eight years ago, Michelle Edgar founded The XX Project and has made it part of her everyday life to inspire and empower women in business. The platform provides leading women in business with resources and tools to enhance their lives and propel their careers forward. Edgar has curated more than 150 events in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, featuring industry leaders such as Soledad O’Brien, Debra Lee, Beth Comstock, Tina Knowles, Suzanne de Passe, Lavinia Errico, and Ty Stiklorius.
She is also executive director of Music Unites, a nonprofit that funds after school music education programs to empower youth. This fall, Music Unites is launching a mentorship program with the UTA Foundation to teach students about the music business and the inner workings of talent agencies.
Here, Edgar shares with CSQ how her career and life have changed as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us all toward more digital experiences, and how she has continued to inspire and be inspired this year.
Under normal circumstances, The XX Project hosts live events for its members. What has the transition to digital been like since the pandemic?
When COVID hit, I quickly transitioned our community from our monthly in-person members’ events across N.Y. and L.A. to weekly virtual Zoom talks featuring topics and industry leaders that addressed issues that were relevant and timely. I wanted to offer a safe space for our community to engage and serve women so that they have an offering of resources, tools, and access to the best-in-class leader. We launched The XX Project Virtual Series “Thriving Over Crisis,” a two-month series featuring weekly sessions with leaders including Maria Molland, CEO of Thinx; Arlan Hamilton, founder of Backstage Capital; Zoe Fairbourn, head of partnerships at Hello Sunshine; author and money expert Nicole Lapin; Laura Hutfless, co-founder of FlyteVu; Ilana Pulvers and Lauren Kossak, head recruiters/talent and acquisition for MGM and Honey; Caz Lacey of CAA; and Aly DeNardo, a partner at MaC Venture Capital.
Additionally, we launched a money series with Public.com, featuring everyone from Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO Girlboss, to Sandra Richards, head of global sports and entertainment at Morgan Stanley, and Alexandra Carter, Columbia Law School professor and author.
What has surprised you about the digital networking world?
There is such a hunger for great content, and this is an amazing time to build and scale a business as you can test out lots of things and structure/pivot your business model based on feedback. We have an XX Slack channel geared to powerful women whose jobs were affected by COVID. This highly engaged community of over 150 people shares insights and knowledge daily, and there have been many people who have heard about job openings and got a great position through our community.
How have you been able to foster community engagement among your members?
We have been fortunate that we have grown exponentially through referral and word of mouth. Also, we have focused on sharing information through social media, where we have seen significant growth.
As a member of The XX Project, our community has access to weekly newsletters that go out to our members that include information on job opportunities as well as other member perks and special discounts. We also highlight our membership community and members have the ability to create custom events highlighting their businesses and services.
What are some of the surprise positive experiences The XX Project has had during this new socially distant era?
I am always excited to hear the impact we have and when women reach out sharing that they’ve been able to find collaborators, find a job, find some inner peace to help them through a difficult time, do a significant business deal, find a business partner, but most importantly be that go-to community that they can always turn to and count on to help them grow their business and be the best they can be both personally and professionally.
How has the pandemic affected you on a personal level?
During this COVID time, I made a commitment to myself to live my best life each and every day, and to train and continue to fulfill my true athletic ability. I want to be the best version of myself in life across the board with law school, work, and athletics. I turned my life around during COVID and got into UCLA Law School and discovered and unleashed my inner athlete. I tapped into my love for running and found my amazing coach, Richard Rucker, on the UCLA track, who transformed my life and trained me in track and field. Every day I strive to reach my full potential and my days kick off with Coach Rucker training me at 6 a.m. I discovered my passion as I started training on the UCLA track, which led me to meeting my coach, and I got to race competitively for my first time in my life in the UCLA Bruins Master Race against USC Trojans—it was amazing to train each and every day for a race for my school as I just started at UCLA Law School in the Master’s in Legal Studies program.
We’re all social distancing, but if you could have dinner with anyone right now, who would it be?
I want to sit down with true track legends, Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix, to learn the tips and tricks to winning races and being a champion as I start my competing journey. I train on the same track as these legends and these tips would be invaluable and a source of inspiration to me to learn from legends.