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Today’s newsletter is a little more personal than usual. I hope you don’t mind.
Have you ever had a moment in your career, when everything seemed to click into place?
I’m lucky; I’ve had a few. Sometimes I knew it in the moment, like the day I reported to my first post-college job—editorial assistant at Elle magazine—it felt like the apex of my life, and honestly, it was. Working at a magazine was a long-standing dream that I started pursuing when I was sophomore in college. I'd made a detailed plan on how to turn myself into a standout candidate through a combination of education (a M.A. in magazine journalism from NYU) and work experience (five internships in two years, at places like InStyle and Harper’s Bazaar). So when I finally got my dream job, I had the opposite of imposter’s syndrome. I felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
More recently, the moment surprised me. In 2017, I started working on an idea for a podcast. The concept was simple. I’d interview inspiring, successful women who all had one thing in common: They’d made a serious, significant pivot in their careers. We’d talk about everything that led to that decision—the skills they’d learned, the moment they knew they had to make a change, the joys and the hardships that came with that choice—and what happened after they bet on themselves.
While the idea for the pod came together quickly, the process of producing it was a little bumpy, to say the least. I recorded an episode that summer in LA to get my bearings, and then somehow convinced a slew of high-profile guests to record with me in New York that fall. It turns out that booking Victoria Beckham for the pod—my dream guest!—was actually easy compared to what life had in store for me. While in New York, in the middle of recording an episode, I went into early labor with my son. Needless to say, the podcast was on hold. I had to cancel all of those interviews from the hospital, where my husband and I spent weeks in the NICU with my son.
Don’t worry: the story gets better.
Eventually we made it home to LA—happy, healthy, and feeling incredibly grateful for the care our son received—and in early 2018, I felt steady enough to pick up the podcast project again. More incredible guests were booked. Even better: I was able to record the episodes as planned! And four years ago this week, on a quiet Monday in February, we debuted the first episode of Second Life, starring my longtime friend and forever inspiration, not to mention a next-level celebrity hairstylist and the founder of the phenomenal hair care (and more) brand OUAI, Jen Atkin.
Since then, I’ve interviewed over 200 women about their work journeys, what they've learned from the process of setting aside their doubts or fears, and what happens when they embark on their second life.
For some, that leap means moving from one part of an industry to another, like Emma Grede, who started her career producing fashion shows, then created an entertainment marketing agency that connected brands (like Dior) with talent (like Natalie Portman), before becoming the co-founder and CEO of Good American, alongside her partner, Khloe Kardashian.
At some point in the process of making Second Life, probably about six months after we launched, I had another one of those moments I mentioned earlier. A this-is-where-I-should-be moment, like the one I had at Elle. The pod is a small part of my day-to-day work (if you’re new here, my primary job is leading the editorial, creative, social, and copy teams at Who What Wear), but it makes me inordinately happy. And it should: Second Life lets me tap back into my favorite part of journalism—interviewing interesting people—plus it feels like I’m using every skill I’ve learned in my professional life to create it, which is honestly wildly rewarding.
In celebration of the incredible individuals who have shared their stories on Second Life, I wanted to spotlight some of the most important, universally applicable, and noteworthy words of wisdom I’ve learned from our guests. These women inspire me on a daily basis, and I’m so honored to be a part of these candid conversations about their careers, dreams, and lives.
One last thing: for those of you who already know and listen to Second Life, I just wanted to take a quick moment to say thank you. The show is one of Apple’s all-time bestselling career podcasts, with 2400 five-star reviews and nearly 17 million downloads, and none of that—none of it!—would happen without the support of our amazing audience. That support has been the most incredible gift, and I promise I appreciate it every day.
And now, with no further ado, here are 20 of my favorite quotes from Second Life guests. I hope they inspire you the way they've inspired me.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
It's so simple, but resonates on a number of levels. This is true for work, relationships, love—all of it. You need to be able to articulate what you want.
“Don’t listen to the words. Look at the action.”
“The greatest lesson that I’ve learned is to know my worth, and the biggest mistake I ever made was not believing in it.”
“Always ask. Ask for that check. Ask for that opportunity. Ask for that email address. Because every time you don’t ask, that’s an automatic no.”
“If you really want to change careers, you should. You live once. This is your one shot. It’s not a rehearsal.”
“You have to really be in the moment and enjoy every part of the process. You can’t just look at the end.”
“I am not afraid to ask questions. It helps you skip the line, it saves you money, and it saves you time.”
“All the great people had a disaster at one point. No one ever has the perfect story.”
“Your instinct—what you bring to the table, how you see the world, how you know your business—is your greatest power.”
“When we think we have nothing to lose, we’ll try anything.”
“By not making a change, just realize that you are making an unconscious decision.”
“Passion is just as important as skill set.”
“We have to be not so afraid of rejection.”
“Never burn bridges.”
“Be patient with yourself because so many of the skills that you actually need to acquire to be successful and to be a person in the world, they take a really long time.”
“Nothing is permanent.”
“You can’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
“Everything happens for a reason. Just keep learning, keep your eyes open, and follow your passions.”
“Sometimes really good things can come from really tough situations.”
“Even the best change comes with loss. That feeling is normal. Embrace it.”