“Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful,” Monica Meyer said.
In her own imperfect yet wonderful life, Meyer has overcome the challenges of serious illness to achieve professional and personal success.
Born with a rare blood disorder that makes her more susceptible to infections, Meyer has shaped her life choices around the chronic, but manageable, condition.
Although she dreamed of becoming a nurse and working with cancer patients, for example, Meyer was unable to complete nursing school because the risk of infection was too great.
“I learned not to take anything in life for granted,” she said.
Instead, Meyer focused on a career in the restaurant industry, in which she has worked since age 19.
For the past 20 years, she has been the heartbeat of Coralville restaurant Monica’s — formerly known as Bob’s Your Uncle. She is quick to point out that she is the namesake and general manager of the restaurant, not the owner.
“Randy (Larson, the owner of Monica’s) has been so supportive and has kept me employed even at times when I’ve been unable to work,” she said.
For his part, Larson speaks highly of Meyer’s contributions to the restaurant, which regularly appears on “best of” lists for the area.
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“She is the reason the entire staff works collaboratively and strives for excellence,” Larson wrote in nominating Meyer for a HER Award. “She is so admired and respected that no one wants to disappoint her by falling short of her gentle, patient but consistent expectations.”
Now managing college students who were her age when she started out in the business, Meyer views her role as helping young people be the best they can be in the service industry so they carry a service mind-set to wherever their careers take them.
“I know their journey, but they still have to go through it themselves,” she said.
“I want to show young people that it’s OK to be comfortable in their own skin and not have such terribly high expectations of themselves.”
One of Meyer’s personal accomplishments, despite the challenges of her medical condition, was starting a family. Three years ago, at age 39, Meyer gave birth to her first child, a boy.
“I was never told not to have children,” she said. “But there was a 50-50 chance I could pass on the blood disorder on to my children.”
She said thus far her son has shown no signs of the disorder.
Especially since the birth of her son, Meyer said she has come to recognize the importance of her role as a mentor to young people.
“I hope what I do has a ripple effect beyond my reach,” she said.
Business 380 spotlights HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.