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Rising Stars: Meet Margaret Meloni

Today we’d like to introduce you to Margaret Meloni.

Hi Margaret, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
It’s all about things not going as planned. And learning to trust the flow.

As a tiny baby, I probably thought that I would be with my mom and with the big group of humans surrounding her. And yes, I was with my mom, just not my birth mom. At around six to eight months old, I was adopted by the two people who were meant to raise me. What did I think? I don’t know! It was probably some type of surprise. But, definitely, I was placed into the care of the two people who were meant to raise me and to create the environment that would prepare me for whatever life had in store for me.

Unanticipated change is the theme behind who I am and how I got here.

From the time I was five years old, I knew that I was going to make it big in the fashion industry. I went to FIDM and learned that I was on the wrong path. Is it possible to have a midlife crisis in your twenties? I think I did. Somehow I went from potential fashion merchandiser to computer programmer. Loved the work, but not some of the organizations I worked for, so I jumped around a bit. My friends called me a job hopper. They weren’t wrong. Yet, that experience with different groups and types of leaders has really helped me to bond with all types of people.

I went from programmer to project manager to senior leader and then when I thought I was happy in my comfy role with great perks and a high salary – WHAM, I was kicked to the curb. I was not good at understanding the political environment. What I did realize was that I wanted to stay away from toxic environments and pointless gameplaying.

You could say that life conspired to give me a good shove away from where I did not belong, to help me find a place where I could make more meaningful contributions. And where I could encourage people to use their power for good.

As I transitioned into teaching project management, the idea of compassion in the workplace became more and more important to me. So many of my students came to me with stories of the ugly behaviors they witnessed from their leaders and colleagues.

While I was working on my Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies I began to realize that the people I loved were going to die. My parents were aging, my husband had already outlived his father, and I began to wonder, “How can I handle losing the people I love the most?”

Of course, death did come, in fact, two of the people I was closest to died within five days of one another. It was my Buddhist practice that sustained me.. And now I have made friends with death.

Where am I now?

Like the rest of you, I am NOT just one thing. I am a champion for project management. And I have worked to help many of my students become the best project managers that they can be,

I have also been a human, living life. And death is part of life.

As I said goodbye to family and friends, I began to realize that we might not all be prepared for death. Which is funny (strange, not funny ha-ha) because death is a certainty.

Champion for project management and advocate for death awareness – this is who I am!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Lily Tomlin said, “The road to success is always under construction.” She is right. All of that construction might lead to what you perceive to be delays, or roadblocks, or detours – but these are all of the elements that have helped to make me stronger, and to be more resilient, and to become more certain about who I am.

Here in no particular order, are some of the road bumps I encountered and how they actually paved my way:

1) Becoming self-supporting at twenty years old. I learned the value of a dollar, how to prioritize my time to balance work and school, And I become independent and confident in my abilities.

2) Rejecting my family’s religion. I learned about other religious paths and became open to the idea that MOST people want to lead happy and peaceful lives. And that there is not just one way. Eventually, my openness brought me to Buddhism, and this is the right path for me.

3) Being sexually harassed on a regular basis in the workplace. Harassment taught me about the imbalance of power at work and in our world. It opened my mind to the fact that what I experienced was just a small part of what many people live with every day. I also learned to pay attention to my intuition, that if something felt wrong, it was wrong, at least for me.

4) Choosing a first partner who was not right for me. Led me to understand how to make better choices, which led me to a loving relationship with an amazing partner.

5) Losing my amazing partner to cancer. Deepened my ability to feel compassion for myself and others. It also helped me to understand how ill-prepared most people are for death, and in turn, this motivated me to help people make peace with death. As my dear father used to say, “Nobody gets out of this alive.”

I think that list helps me to convey that it is the challenges in life that helped me grow. And that none of us have an easy path. What we each have is our own path, and if we are open to it, it is the hard times that propel us to our own versions of success.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Earning a Ph.D. later in life in Buddhist Studies, an area that is not exactly clamoring for resources forced me to really think about how I could use my education and experience to make a positive difference in the world. Initially, I was going to focus primarily on the importance of compassion. Integrating Buddhist compassion with corporate leadership.

But then – along came change. And impermanence. I began to see that I could absolutely teach my project management students about compassionate leadership – additionally one of the most compassionate things that I could do was to speak and write openly about death and grief. About love and loss.

The result?

The Death Dhamma podcast, Open and honest discussions with wise and skillful teachers about their experiences with life, death, and Buddhism.

Two books:

Carpooling with Death: How Living with Death will Make You, Stronger, Wiser and Fearless.

Sitting with Death: Buddhist Insights to Help You Face Your Fears and Live a Peaceful Life.

And a few articles, talks and blog posts along the way.

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
Follow your interests and join me for project management insights, ideas, and training at or to bring more peace to your life when you form a friendship with death.

Either way, I enjoy speaking at conferences and events.


  • Carpooling with Death: How Living with Death Will Make You Stronger, Wiser and Fearless – in paperback $16.99
  • Carpooling with Death: How Living with Death Will Make You Stronger, Wiser and Fearless – Kindle $2.99
  • Sitting With Death: Buddhist Insights to Help You Face Your Fears and Live a Peaceful Life – Paperback $16.99
  • Sitting With Death: Buddhist Insights to Help You Face Your Fears and Live a Peaceful Life – Kindle $2.99
  • WBSCoach: The WorkBreakdown Structure is a Project Managers Best Friend – $18.00

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