“Invent your job. Anything can be [possible] now.” Anna Dello Russo says on a Friday night at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Peroni USA had sent me over to the London Fashion Week and to kick it off I had the opportunity to listen to a talk with Anna Dello Russo. She is a big favorite of mine, with her outrageous outfits, her fabulous advice on how to dress for a Christmas Party, or what to wear on the Front Row. She is probably the most vocally positive about blogging than anyone else in the Fashion Elite. Bloggers have actually transformed her role from behind the scenes styling for Japan Vogue, to being the subject and muse of the digital world.
One of the things that stuck out aside from her silver bobble fascinator and leather Fausto Puglisi dress was her approach to life and her career. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, “Faux paux is part of the process.” Keep pushing yourself, “Don't let it [your job] get old.” Which is why at 49, she's probably one of the freshest and most energetic faces in fashion today.
These days while everything seems so uncertain, it's hard to take the leap into figuring out where you want to go with your life. A career coach once advised me, “Don't apply for jobs, make your career.” It was a complete mind shift. What did that mean? How could I earn a living that way? But ever since I personally started following that advice, my life had transformed. Here's why… jobs are created because what you do adds value to the person or company you do them for. Whether it's mowing someone's front lawn or building interactive geolocated magazine iPad apps, or your outfit posts, what happens when you make someone's day easier, or you make someone money there is the possibility you can invent your own job.
I don't know ADR's process on how she invents her own job, but for me, starting out as a graphic designer, and then making the move into blogging, it wasn't a straight route. Back then, not many bloggers were earning a living, but it didn't stop me, and now I've been blogging full time for four years, it's amazing how even now it feels like the inventing is still very much in process. There are a few words of advice I can personally give:
- Think big: There's an old saying, if you reach for the stars, you get to the top of the trees, if you reach for the top of the trees, you don't get off the ground. That couldn't be more true. When I started blogging, I literally wanted to become the one of the best bloggers in the world. While that didn't really happen, what did happen was I reached a level where we could really build a business. Now, it's still a process, but thinking big helps to get most of my projects off the ground, and more often than not, it always surprises me.
- Work hard: Anna Dello Russo says she works every day. She loves what she does, but she also works every day. In the Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell, he notes that the truly successful geniuses don't get there by accident, that most everyone works much harder than anyone else. Everyone I know who is really good at what they do, are passionate enough to work hard.
- It's about providing value: I can work all day, and get nothing valuable done. Yep, I can spend all day on twitter and nothing can come out of it. That doesn't mean you don't have to work hard, it just means there is a difference between working and getting things done. At the end of the day, clients and employers tend to look at the finished product (you wouldn't want to buy a half sewn dress, even if they spent as much time working on it as another dress that's finished). If you focus on how you're providing value, you'll be essential.
- Have faith in yourself: When Anna Dello Russo started wearing the cherry hats, she said people just looked at her crazy. In response, she kept a positive attitude, giving a thumbs up and saying “That's right.” and a subtle wink. In order to create something special, you might get strange looks, you might make mistakes, but it you're confident and you don't let it get you down, you'll be the one who stands out from the crowd. Have faith in your creative process, have faith in yourself, you never know where it will take you.
- Everything works out, even the things that don't: Over the years, I've gone through a lot of touch and go times becoming a professional blogger, and through building IFB. Amazing experiences in exotic places, crying in my pajamas at 3pm. Some things work out amazingly, some things don't. But I find that more often than not, the things that don't work out end up being the things that give room for beautiful things to happen. Maybe your current idea is crap, and you suck at it. So what! Everyone experiences that, and you'll hopefully learn something amazing from the experience, and your experience will be essential to finding your true calling. Knowing things will work out usually gives you the calm and the courage to make a new career even when you don't know what it is yet.
I could go on, and really the moral of the story is Anna Dello Russo is not only one of a kind, she gives advice that anyone can follow. You may not be able to wear a cherry hat to work but, “Anything can be now.” And that's something to take to heart.