Sarah Boyd is a Ph.D. scientist turned entrepreneur and the CEO of META Studios. She has scaled multiple businesses and boasts a diverse network of collaborators across entertainment, academia, government, non-profits, and the life sciences and tech industries. With extensive research experience, she uses data-driven methods to solve complex problems.
Sarah is a constant learner and enjoys mentoring young women and working moms. She resides in Cumming, Georgia with her husband and two children. And she enjoys all things related to personal and spiritual development, baking, and playing the piano.
Read our interview with Sarah below.
Tell us a bit about your day-to-day – and what you love most about what you do?
I have a sacred morning routine. It allows me the time and space to set my intentions and mentally prepare for known unknowns that will, inevitably, arise throughout my day. I wake up at 4:00 am, every day, and spend 20-30 minutes journaling, reflecting, breathing, in gratitude, and visiting my goals for the day, month, and year. After that, I’m off to my neighborhood YMCA until while everyone at my house is still asleep. Next is, essentially, the kid chaos with my seven-year-old and my four-year-old, making breakfast and shuttling everyone off to school. Then, the workday begins at 8 am.
Right now, most of my workdays are filled with meetings with partners, investors, and our fantastic META team. I also make a concerted effort to attend and contribute to professional societies and local industry events, networking with colleagues and mentoring the next generation.
And I absolutely love that no two days are alike. I am constantly learning and challenging myself. I enjoy mentoring, especially young women and working moms.
What was the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
I’d say the best piece of advice I’ve received applies to all aspects of my life, not just business: If you wait until you’re ready to start, it’s already too late.
We must continue to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones to cultivate growth in business and our personal lives. Fear is normal. It shouldn’t stop us from doing the things we want to do. To some extent, I’ve been scared every day of my life. I look for small opportunities to challenge myself in mundane activities, to normalize feelings of imperfection, discomfort, and fear. For example, just this past year I started to write in cursive. I’d been writing in print forever, and one day I just said, “I’m going to write in cursive, and it’s going to be ugly for a while.” I’ve now been writing exclusively in cursive for 9 months and it looks slightly better. Lower case m’s still trip me up, though.
What’s the biggest challenge you face with META Studios?
Part of our work at META Studios is to educate local, Georgia investors about the business of film and gaming. In Georgia, most of our investment community is very familiar with real estate. The entertainment industry, more specifically film, gaming, and esports, is relatively new to the scene. To secure Georgia’s future as a key player, we must have the backing and support of local investors. With the State’s tax incentives and availability of homegrown talent, we are in the right place at the right time to collectively develop industry sustainability.
What does success mean to you?
I equate success with happiness. Yes, we have traditional goals and metrics that we’re tracking, financials and so on, but none of it matters if we – myself and my team – are not happy. I find fulfillment in my work and genuinely enjoy what I’m doing. We cultivate a work environment that is collaborative, supportive, and challenging so that everyone at META can find and fulfill their own happiness. And, if we can find joy in the journey then we are already successful.
In moments of uncertainty or doubt that you’ve had, especially being a female in the entertainment industry, what do you do to kind of build yourself back up? Where do you go to get that support?
The good and bad news is that we, as individuals, are solely responsible for our position in life. I wish I could say that when I get knocked down or have a bad day that I run home to my secret box of wishes, close my eyes, and everything is magically different. The truth is that when I have a bad day – because we all have bad days – I turn inward. I go back to things that I know hold me up: journaling, breathwork, meditation and prayer, and I move myself into gratitude as soon as possible. My problems do not vanish and solutions aren’t always clear, but if my mind is in the right place and my heart is open then I will operate from a solid position and I can figure it out from there.
Do you have a specific person that’s inspired you or mentored you, that one specific person that’s really influenced you?
I am surrounded by people who inspire me: from my children to the old man in the grocery store. Inspiration is everywhere if we look for it. I’m not the protege of any one person. I read a lot – about business, personal development, and spirituality. I’ve been influenced by my parents, teachers, friends, and business partners. Everyone is offering advice about something. To me, the key is deciding which pieces of advice to try on for ourselves, which to keep, and which to leave behind.
What brings you happiness?
The laughter of my children. My husband’s robot dance moves. When my cat knocks something off a table. Witnessing simple acts of kindness. Being a part of plans that are much bigger than me. Working hard. Simple design. Learning.
How do you practice self-care?
For me, self-care involves saying “no” to most things so that I can say “yes” to the best things. I try to honor my body through movement, sleep, nourishing meals, and supplements.
Also, I limit all the physical clutter and stuff: excessive home decor, kids’ toys, clothing, stacks of papers and digital files. I streamline processes as much as possible, for business and my personal life. I have a personal uniform of black, brown, navy, and white. The only pattern I wear, occasionally, is stripes. This cuts down on the time I spend thinking about and shopping for clothes, matching outfits, and changing clothes in the morning. It’s a simple system that frees up some mental space so that I can focus on more important things.
I protect my energy and am aware when I have overextended myself. For example, if I spend hours being “on” during a speech or presentation, deep-diving into business matters, or even chaperoning a field trip, I might feel maxed out and I need to plan for a rebound period of solitude. I work to grow authenticity in my closest relationships so that they are energy-giving, not draining.
How do you balance being a mother, being a wife, and being the CEO of META – while also taking care of yourself?
There is no balance. Taking care of myself is a priority, every day. It has to be that way because so many other people and projects are depending on me to be at my best. The days of chronic self-sacrifice for our businesses and our families have passed. We’ve learned by watching the boomer generation crumble that putting ourselves last is the fastest way to a complete breakdown of the entire system.
I handle the rest of my responsibilities one day at a time. Sometimes, business requires that I work 16 hour days, waking up early and going to bed late. Some days, there are sick children or parent/teacher conferences, so work takes the back seat. I believe that society now understands that we bring our whole selves to work and it looks different day-to-day. What’s most important is our mental and physical health, that our families are taken care of, and our business continues to thrive because the people who make the business are thriving. People are everything.
What do young women who are entering this business or going to college to be in this business, what do they need to know?
Young women, and anyone, in any field need to understand that no one is coming to rescue you. You, and only you, are responsible for your destiny in life. Nothing is going to fall from the sky to tell you your purpose. No one is showing up to help you answer life’s deepest questions. You must awaken to your potential, seek self-understanding, practice bettering yourself every day, stretch yourself and take risks even though you might be scared.
If you could go back and give yourself 3 pieces of advice when you started your career – what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself:
- No one has it all figured out. Even the grown-ups are just winging it to the best of their ability.
- Everything makes sense in retrospect. You can weave the story in hindsight and the dots will always connect.
- Cultivate a few interests outside of work and maintain them throughout the rest of your life. It can be a sport, fishing, playing an instrument, baking, literally anything. Varied interests and life experiences will make you a more well-rounded human. I think we understand this value in childhood but forget that it applies to adulthood, too.
What single word or saying do you identify most with?