Earlier this year, I left my job at WilsonHCG and decided to do nothing. It was the first time in my full-time-employment life where I didn’t have to work and after two years of working in jobs that were demanding and stressful, I decided to take some time off.
Here’s the problem: it’s hard to do nothing. I was used to the routine, to the big projects, to solving problems, to the pride that comes with having a difficult job where you make a difference.
But in stripping away the label of “Vice President of Marketing for an international company” I had to face how much the job was my identity. I let myself feel successful through the dictates of my job so I didn’t have to decide what I wanted my personal definition of success to be. I knew I wasn’t alone on this. In fact, Arianna Huffington wrote an entire book and started a global organization, all around this concept and I highly recommend reading Thrive – it’s been stuck in my mind since I read it last year.
The answer I found in my three months off is that there isn’t a final answer to figure out. It’s a journey through evolving needs and focused growth. (Big surprise, I know.)
But I guess where I’m going is not to share some revelation. I just want to say that disappearing for three months was amazing because I got to finally overcome my burnout and rekindle my relationship with the things that bring me to life. And work is a part of that.
So I’m excited to be back. Excited to be back with a title and a job and a little more balance for myself.
Please excuse my absence, I’ve been in a feminist depression.
And now for something completely different:
I’m reading “Annals of Retail: Mom-and-Pop Shop” the March 20th volume of The New Yorker about Opening Ceremony’s founders, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, and this quote really hit me:
In the nineties, U.C. Berkley became an unlikely incubator for the future of fashion. Leon (who majored in communications and art) and Lim (economics) overlapped there…Fashion wasn’t offered as a major. “It was more, like, this is my tribe, that’s your tribe, based on how you dressed,” Laura Mulleavy [co-founder of Redarte] told me.
“‘I like your Docs’ – that’s how Humberto and I met,” Cynthia Leung, a Berkeley classmate who is now a fashion publicist, said. She introduced Leon to Lim during their sophomore year, and she accompanied them on epic shopping trips to the Salvation Army. “Carol would find one or two things, maybe a cashmere cardigan that was beaded and lined. And then Humberto and I would have these mammoth piles. Our main question was ‘Is this ugly? Is this beautiful ugly?’“
May we always embrace the beautiful ugly. And may we always be ballsy enough to love doing so.
The past twelve months have given me an unexpected change of course and I didn’t see it until today.
In that time:
- I was given a promotion based off the belief I step up into what the role would require.
- My boss quit, leaving me with even more responsibility to figure out.
- I was invited to speak as a token Millennial at the Bullhorn conference with the President of my company.
- Hillary Clinton was nominated the first major female candidate for President of the United States.
- I was put in charge of the relationship between my company and Levo League.
- I hit the 18-month count-down to my 30th birthday.
Each event was unrelated but lead me to today where I had a clear moment of realization – I need to take all my excitement, insights, and desire to learn and be inspired, and I need to curate them in a way that I can expand my network to and with other nasty women.
Because that’s really what happened. I watched my opportunities slowly expand as I fell in love with my inner bossy girl, my nasty woman. And now, I want to take my Millennial label, my “feminist rage” for inclusive quality, and talk about that.
Three years in a row now, I’ve created a Christmas card summarizing Taylor and my life together and for three years in a row, I’ve done nothing with them.
It’s a mix of reasons for not actually sending the cards, I suppose: my dislike of performing, the enjoyment of design surpassing the gratification of showing off that design, and my tendency to move on as soon as something ends (if not before).
Regardless of the reason, I feel guilty for ending my work so uselessly. So, here you are: A preview of my life and design.
In all honesty, I am proud of this design.
The workplace has become a world full of interruptions: meetings, noise, and Facebook. And even I – someone who’s always been good at switching gears between different projects quickly – find my productivity getting as chopped up along with my day.
As with most people, I’ve found ways to work through the distractions, but I still face those weird, 15-minute windows of time when I’ve finished up one task but don’t have time to start something new before a meeting or a phone call. It may not seem like much, but 15 minutes here and there add up quickly. Here are three ways I fill those potential “dead times” in my day:
Start the day with a plan. (This one is super obvious, but we all need reminding, right?) You may know what you need to do (run social media accounts, plan a campaign, create supporting collateral), but it takes a block of time to really get into your projects. If you start your day by listing out your projects, then break them down into bite-sized tasks, you’ll know which you can knock out in 15 minutes.
Collect articles to read. Whether it’s bookmarking a webpage, favoriting a tweet, or physically printing out something, keep a couple quick articles handy to read when you have a couple open minutes. This will keep you on track, and up-to-date on your industry.
Stack your meetings back-to-back. Whenever I plan a phone call or meeting, I try to schedule them adjacent to any other meetings I have scheduled for that day. That limits those dead times and also allows longer stretches of “heads down” time.
Don’t do anything. Sometimes the best thing you can do, is let yourself do nothing. And I’m not talking about mindless Buzzfeed binges, I mean real moments of meditation. (Yes, even you extroverts.) There’s a lot of benefit in just taking a moment to remove yourself from the trenches and regain some perspective.
Full disclosure: I’m not great at doing these, but I know that when I take my own advice I’m better off for it. What about you? How do you maximize your day?
One of my big focuses at work, right now, is to train our colleagues on how to use Twitter. And I’ve realized that trying to convince baby boomers of the importance of 140 character blurbs can be overwhelmed by “handles,” “hashtags” and “live tweeting”.
So I begin my training with three fundamental points, with the hope that they will motivate the trainees to figure out Twitter, as opposed to relying on my examples to get them through:
- The digital world is highly integrated with our off-line life. The more you can be aware of the digital conversations, and take part in them, the more influence you will have.
- Create a personal brand. Read my post on personal brand tips.
- Integrate social media into your current patterns. If you read news every morning, tweet the articles you find especially interesting. If you are in and out of client visits, check the Twitter app while in the elevator. Stuff like that.
Despite my awesome advice to people, I struggle with keeping on top of my social media. I question my personal brand, and I wonder if I am creating a voice worth listening to.
Last night, I was going through my notebook of random thoughts/inspirations and I found an old note to myself:
“I don’t have to have all the insights, knowledge and thoughts, I just need to add my voice to the conversation and the connections will come.”
And that’s what I’m going to do. If you have any advice that has helped you, please share!
I’m sitting at a large, wooden desk – purchased from GoodWill for $30 and meticulously painted and distressed by my husband. I’m wearing a down coat, because I’m directly beneath the air conditioning and I hate being cold while he is always hot. (It’s the biggest struggle in our relationship.) We’re watching the Crimson Tide drown the Gators, which I like, and I smell as much like Chanel as a pulled-out magazine ad will allow.
I love looking through fashion magazines – today it’s Elle – because my quirky, creative side enjoys the pulling pieces from high fashion, but more importantly I can’t get enough of the stories about young, entrepreneurial women who are kicking ass in designer heels or designing jewelry in industrial Los Angeles.
I’m inspired by them. They remind me that I need to act, and not just watch; they prove that you don’t have to follow the rules to be successful and I really just want to be friends with them.
Fast forward two weeks and I’m at the same desk, this time in light green bush hat eating dried mangos and cheddar jalapeño Cheetos. Every day I feel like I’m closer to grabbing the entrepreneur-bull by the horns full-time, and every day I find something that keeps me going.
This week, I was inspired by a Wisconsin bar tender who told me of his big plans in a small town. Thank you, for the push.
Recently, I’ve been teaching myself how to edit short videos. I’m definitely pleased with how my first few have turned out, even though they are super amateurish. I figure if I keep working on short videos two things will happen: First, I’ll go on more adventures around Jacksonville and Florida. Second, I’ll learn how to make interesting and fun videos that don’t look like a newbie put them together.
My most recent video is of a used bookstore in downtown Jacksonville, Chamblin’s Uptown Books.
Check it out, and if you have any advice on how to improve my video-making skills, please let me know!