As a kid, I was a committed journaler and competitive book junkie. As a teen, English class was where the world made the most sense. But it wasn’t until I was a twenty-something going to school in South Africa that the way I was engineered really stuck out. I’d pen these long email novels to everyone back home, and my mom said she’d make a cup of tea and sit down to read it knowing she’d be taken to where I was. All the things I’d ever done to understand, process and feel the world just felt normal to me until she told me that, until I realized that for me words weren’t commonplace, but captivating. So, I never “realized it” or had this waking moment where I thought, “This is it, this is the thing I need to do.” Other people told me before I ever knew I had something, so it was a slow build.
When working, the purpose defines the process, so with my own writing, I have free rein to wander into my own head and come out with anything I find, but with copywriting, I’m digging in there for something pretty specific. If it’s for myself, I’m solely in the service of articulating my own thoughts and ideas and subjects, but copywriting is in the service of a brand’s thoughts and ideas and subjects. So, though I might tap into a communal headspace for both, the process from there on out can look entirely different.
My advice for future generations of writers—practice good grammar at all times, even and especially when you’re texting. Don’t fight to be right, but seek to be heard. Never try to force your writing into topics or subjects you don't care about. It’ll come across. Whatever you’re full of zest about, anything you’re really into, put your pen to that kind of stuff. It’s not small, stupid or silly if you care about it, so give it airtime. Invest energy in new ideas and insights so your writing deepens. Steep yourself in culture and human behaviour and the why’s of the world. It will differentiate you. Volume doesn’t necessarily equal value. If one person reads what you just wrote and it changed their life, why is that any less of a purpose than if a hundred people read it? Don't attach your ego or purpose to the numbers game. It’s made enough people think they don’t have something real to say because the audience wasn’t perceived as big enough. Stay curious. Please. We need you to stay curious.
Everything on my desk is meaningful to me - stacks of polaroids, a porcelain lion, a cactus, a Fisher-Price little people mail carrier toy, a card from my little sister and quotes taped to my screen. It’s all my favourite.
I wrote this piece on leadership a couple years back and my favourite bit is, “I thought leading meant being less of myself. Trading in my untamed personality for a more conditioned, groomed set of characteristics. To be maimed by boring, corporate insignia and get in line for the same lunch everyone else was eating. I felt like a wild horse being pulled and fitted for a giant saddle made of cement, something that would eventually crack my backbone and my spirit. My instinct was to kick. Hard. To pull away from the ropes, the rules, the right, and pin it for the hills where the wind would welcome me back.”
It perfectly encapsulates why I’d been so hesitant to step to the front of the class for so long. I thought I’d have to trade myself in for a proper model, but I was completely backward. The things that are innate to me, that make me who I am, are what make me an incredible leader. They’re the blocks I get to build on, so I’m relieved I’ve since straightened that out.
I’d really dig seeing more empathy, water, self-awareness, servanthood, love ballads, airmail, kindness, endangered species, open dialogue about absolutely anything, campfires and peonies. I think our world could do without gossip, pride, plastic straws, honking, comparison, ghosting, sugar, plastic surgery, post-baby bod pressure and people taking videos of a concert while they’re at a concert.
To me, being an entrefemmeur means holding your softness and your boldness in equally valuable portions. Sure, I’m a bold female cutting my own inroads and pioneering my purpose, but I don’t need to wear the perception that by taking no shit in the process that I’m a hard, unmalleable bulldozer. It's an exhausting cultural trope, to be honest. I forge my own path by being honest about who I really am, offering vulnerability to a very cynical world, being open even when I’ve been wounded and letting my optimism, innocence and hope have the biggest say at the end of a long day. That’s the human I want to be in this life - that’s what I want - so that would be my custom definition of an entrefemmeur.