Jordan Taylor recalls a visit to her mother Edith Cooper’s office in Goldman Sachs, in lower Manhattan. “I was under 10 years old,” she says. The most exciting part of that adventure was playing with the copier and office supplies.” At the time, Cooper was director of Goldman’s securities division, became general manager, global head of human capital management, and for the last five years of her more than 26 -year with the company, was a senior director.
About eight months after Cooper, 66, retired, in 2018 she and Taylor founded Medley, a service that brings groups of up to eight people, from diverse backgrounds, together with a coach to solve a common problem. “The coaches are not there to teach,” Cooper says. “They’re adept at creating the connections and the exploration needed for growth. It’s about getting through cues and frameworks to really help people learn the moves of going deep and what that means.”
Taylor’s own work ethic stems in part from the interactions she saw her mother do in the office. “I had some friends whose mothers didn’t work,” says Taylor, 31. “What I appreciate was that I had a strong example of what it looked like to build a career and [take] I’m proud of that.” Visits to her mother’s office were not relegated to one day a year. to work with and lead. I always looked up to her. I was very lucky, I had such an incredible role model and still have,” says Taylor.
She observed how her mother treated everyone from her employees to security. “One of the first things I remember when I went to the office with my mother is the respect with which she treated each person. In a large company, people often walk in and out. They will be the person in the cafeteria when they [pay for their lunch]† With my mother it is exactly the other way around. She looks people in the eye. She knows their names.” Taylor admits she makes a conscious effort to mimic this behavior herself.
Cooper thanks her daughter, the company’s CEO, for the idea for Medley. After earning her MBA from Harvard Business School, Taylor spent just a few years as an associate at Boston Consulting Group and chief of staff for the digital news company Mic, before deciding to found the company. “There are so many parts of life that in theory should be easy to change, but in fact they just aren’t,” Taylor says. “We make groups [based on] shared interests and things they want to explore. The power of learning with other people is greater than doing something alone. People share parts of their lives with each other. They’re present and engaged, which isn’t always the case,” she says from her home office in Brooklyn. While Medley is open to everyone, the participants are most likely in their thirties and moving into leadership roles at work or perhaps a “The special thing about them is their openness and curiosity about other people. That’s probably the biggest psychographic driver,” says Taylor. Membership to join any of the groups runs on a sliding scale, from $50 to $250 per month.
Medley currently attracts about 40 percent of their customers through existing member referrals, as well as LinkedIn and Instagram posts. They have not yet invested in paid advertising, but anticipate forging alliances with other companies. “We are starting some partnerships with companies that sponsor monthly memberships for their employees who really want to invest in their growth. This is a way to give them access to a supportive community and help them build, as Edith said, the skills that are critical not only to their professional lives, but also to their personal lives and well-being.”
Did you catch that? It wasn’t meant to be disrespectful, but Taylor stopped calling Cooper “mother” during work hours about three years ago, after the first year of their business. “I called her mom while building Medley, but we have employees and it can be weird to say, ‘My mom told us to do X, Y, Z,'” she says. Even if Taylor limits herself to naming from Edith ‘mama’ on weekends and outside of work, she knows that her business partner will always be the woman who supports her, educates her and continues to inspire her.In the end, Taylor knows that Edith will always be her mother first.