The phrase “if I had known this or that, I would have done things differently” probably sounds pretty familiar – either because you heard your friends or family say it or because you said it yourself from time to time. No doubt about it, life teaches us a lot of lessons as we grow older and when we look back at our younger selves and the decisions we made – more than once we may wish we’d have done things differently with the experience and knowledge we have today. That’s when the thought occurred: wouldn’t it be kind of cool if it was possible to give advice to our younger self? Aside from the fact that a younger you maybe wouldn’t listen to what the wiser version has to say (because, dude: boring), I asked this question to a couple of successful ladies – wondering what they would say to themselves when they just started out in this fashion business.
Patricia Goijens (co-founder of Lily and the Lady and blogger behind No Glitter, No Glory). “I wish I’d known to be less modest and have less self-doubt. I think it’s a very “Belgian” thing, but in your own development and business it serves no purpose. I think having a fearless attitude is often mistaken for arrogance, but it really doesn’t have to be. Know your place, have enough self-reflection, but also know your strengths and show them to the world. I think this is advice to both my younger and current self actually, because I still need to remind myself of this from time to time. Also, this is the best advice I have ever gotten (and it comes from my mother): The only person responsible for your happiness is you. You are in charge, and in most situations, you do have a choice. Attitude is incredibly important in people’s sense of happiness, and I believe that looking on the bright side is a wonderful thing to try and live by.”
Stephanie Duval (freelance storyteller and blogger behind 70percentpure). “When I look back on my time as a student and my first years as a professional, I realize I was lucky in many ways: I was in the right place at the right time on more than one occasion. But it would be wrong to attribute that fact to luck alone. I worked HARD. When I was a junior in college, I started freelance writing for magazines and publications. I networked everywhere and anyhow I could, and followed up on every single opportunity that presented itself. There were weeks when I hardly slept, dividing my time between school projects, work and events I attended to get my name out there. I didn’t stop. For a few years, until about two or three years after graduating, I barely had a life outside of work and school. I missed out on parties and typical student stuff. I canceled family dinners and trips with friends. Every breath I took, was to achieve my next goal. So the first thing I would tell my 23-year-old self would be: “learn how to prioritize.”
All that hard work did pay off. I am at a place in my life where I wouldn’t have been without everything I’ve done, experienced and accomplished. But perhaps it took me a few too many years to realize I needed more balance in my life, and to figure out what was important and what was not. Not every opportunity actually leads to positive things in the future – but it can be hard to discern the difference when you’re smack in the middle of it. A mentor can help you see these things: someone who’s been there, someone who’s done that. I’ve been blessed to have a few of those people in my life when I was just starting out: people that gave me chances and who believed in me. If you meet someone like that, cherish your relationship with them. And if you meet peers like that – who help you, coach you, cheer you on – cherish them even more. There comes a time for everyone when you just need to get some good advice, or you need to catch a break – and these are the people who will help you with that.”
Marie Lemaitre (PR operator and co-founder of Walkie Talkie). “Like a lot of people, I have a soft spot for the Wear Sunscreen column Mary Schmich once wrote for the Chicago Tribune – an awesome speech with a lot of valuable and heartwarming advice to young people. But what if I were to give advice to my younger self? If I’d met myself a year ago, in the early stages of Walkie Talkie, I would strongly advise not to do too many projects for free or take on clients where you don’t feel a great fit right away. After that I’d probably ramble on sternly about how never to lose sight of your own pr and communication. When there’s a lot of work to be done, you easily forget to feature cases your site. Your projects are your business card and you need to use them in your communication as soon as they’re finished. I wish I’d known how important every single word is on your website (even the ones between brackets). It’s staggering how fast people make up their mind about your company after swiftly browsing your site. So, 25-year-old self, be sure to wage your words well.
If I’d meet my 22-year-old self (when I first got into the pr business), my two cents would most likely sound more like this: Be sure to get your attendees’ cell phone numbers before your first event starts so you can reach them last minute! Be friendly but don’t try to be everyone’s best buddy, that won’t work. Dare to give your opinion more on Twitter. Silly stuff like that. Or maybe I’d just tell her to get cracking on using gifs to react to mails! It’s a lot more fun.
What kind of advice would you give to your younger self?
Pictures via No Glitter, No Glory // Zeb Daemen for Diamanti per Tutti // Brunette Blogging