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 40 Over 40 for 2023
Kristi Melani



"Own your own story. Create a vision board. Look at it. Live it. Become it.

You've got this. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

AGE: 50

PROFESSION: Chief Marketing Officer & GTM Strategy

What is the best thing about being your age?

You get to a point in your life where you realize what truly matters. What friends you want around, what you want from a marriage, an occupation, your family. It takes time to find your place and it can be a scary journey. But it doesn't have to be. Now at 50, I realize more than ever that I don't need to be perfect. I don't need to be included in every party invite, campaign trip, or networking event. Being confident in who you are, and how you got there seems to be something that comes with age.

What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?

Where to begin? Tough pregnancy, a divorce, discrimination at work, my son being relentlessly bullied and no one doing anything about it....and the list goes on. But I don't look at them as hardships, they are all experiences that made me stronger, because it was proof I could survive even the toughest of the tough moments. I didn't like them, would I have liked to skip of them? Of course. But, do I know now how to navigate better because of them? Absolutely. The road isn't always a smooth, straight shot. It often is filled with pot holes, bumps, and detours. That's ok, you still get to where you need to go.

What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?

Being a mom. I wasn't sure, to be honest, if I would have children. Whether it was because I wanted to establish a career first, or didn't find someone I wanted to be the father of my child, not sure. But I waited, longer than most of my friends. And when I decided it was time, it was a really rough pregnancy. I spent most of the time on bed rest, under close care of my doctors. But I realize now, it truly was a bucket item. I wanted to be a mom. I was just afraid of whether or not I was going to be a good one. I don't like doing things unless I THINK I will be good at it. I am a damn good mom. I have raised a son who has a heart of gold. Who is smart. Empathetic. Talented. Has amazing comedic timing, wit, you name it. He is my whole bucket list. Sure ziplining was a thrill, but being a mom is a bucket list item you never have to check off the list.

What is your most treasured possession?

We aren't an antique family. I don't have family heirlooms. I don't have jewelry from some far off place. I don't collect art. But I have my late grandfather's Giants sweatshirt, and my late grandmother's jacket from the 40's era and they are both spectacular in their own way. I put them on, and I feel a virtual embrace from them. Truly two of my most favorite people in the world who are no longer with me. It takes me back to moments when I saw them wear these items. If I close my eyes tight enough, I can smell their scent. If the house was on fire, and I had to grab very few things, it would be my son's baby book, and those two pieces of clothing.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I bought myself a Dodge Challenger. It's a muscle car. It purrs when you start it up. It's not ecologically friendly at all, and it feels extravagant for me. But I love it.

What is a trait you are most proud of?

I am a relator. I like to think that I can talk to anyone and feel like we've been friends for ages at the end of a 15 minute conversation. I wasn't always like that. I wasn't a wall flower by any means, but I wasn't as approachable as I am now. I am proud that when we are in a mixer situation, I actually do the mixing. I don't sit with who and what is comfortable, but I walk around, work a room, extend my hand, and be the connector who brings groups together. It's tiring sometimes, but equally as rewarding.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I want to love my body. But I don't. Menopause is a rough thing. Mentally and physically. I am surrounded by people who compliment me, love me for who and what I am, yet I see the rolls when I bend over and I cringe. I see the wrinkles and I want them to go away. I want to not be bothered by the process of aging. The pessimistic side of my brain takes over now and again, and that is absolutely something I would change. I will keep trying!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being a mom is a given. But I think becoming an executive is up there on the list as well. I had a vision board. I told myself someday I would be a CMO. I pushed through so many set backs. The job being given to someone with less experience. Lowering my standards and just taking a job because I had to. But when I was given the opportunity to become a CMO for the first time, I jumped in with all my might and determination. I was going to excel at it. I had to. I recently won an award as a Top Leader in Marketing & PR by a reputable global organization. It finally happened. Not only did I gain a seat at the big kid table, but I was recognized for being damn good at it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don't worry about what other people think so much. It took me until much later in life to not care what the mean girls thought. To not be bothered by the room tilting towards men, rather than women. It's easier said than done. Do I care still what people think? In a sense, yes, but will I change who I am because of it? Absolutely not. And that is the main lesson. You can care, but don't let it change you. People are going to think what they think, no matter what. Spending cycles on that is a waste of time. Surround yourself with people that take you as you are. And love you for your whole self. Authenticity. Own it. Everyday.

What is your motto or favorite quote?

Everything happens for a reason.

Words of wisdom to younger women…

Own your own story. Create a vision board. Look at it. Live it. Become it. You've got this. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Additional thoughts about aging…

It isn't something you can change. If I had a magic pill to live forever, I would take it, but I would stop aging at about 80 or so. When I'm at a point where I have lived so much life. And can just spend my days, dancing, singing, grabbing a cocktail and saying whatever I want, because when I'm 80, everything is fair game ;)


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