The Interesting Women Interview (#1): Bianca Bass

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Happy Tuesday everyone! I am so excited to bring you this post today! It is the first in my new series, dubbed "The Interesting Women Interview", and it will be just that - me interviewing lots of kickass women who I find super interesting and asking them all of the questions that I want to know the answer to.

I am even more excited that the wonderful Bianca Bass is my first interviewee. Bianca has achieved an incredible amount in her relatively short career and also runs a very inspiring blog and weekly newsletter (that you should definitely subscribe to!). In this interview we discuss where she gets her motivation from, her ambitions for the next few years and the career lessons she has learned...

1) Hi Bianca! I'm sure a lot of my readers will already be familiar with you and your blog, but for those that aren't can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello! I’m a writer and editor living in London. By day, I manage a talented team of copywriters at TripAdvisor, which means overseeing all messaging for SEO, CRM, product, marketing, acquisition and more. You name it, we do it! And come night, I write about careers, creativity and the things I feel we need to discuss more. I also have a weekly newsletter filled with insightful interviews and interesting content, which is quickly becoming my raison d’être.

2) Your passion for your career is something that really inspires me - have you always known what you wanted to do career wise?

Firstly, thank you so much! I’ve always known I wanted to do *something*. But what that something is can vary on any given day. Growing up, I was constantly writing - creating my own magazines and short stories. And then, as I moved to London in the middle of the recession and was told there was no money in writing, I discovered I had an interest in marketing, too. That’s how I ended up working for brands like Selfridges, John Lewis and MatchesFashion.com. Now that I’ve worked my way up a little bit, I’m finding myself increasingly fascinated by my original dream of writing creatively. It’s funny, I think your childhood hobbies and aspirations can say so much about the person you are. It can just take us a little while to find our way back to that.

Ultimately, I’ve always wanted to experience as much as possible, and I think working is a big part of that. Working expands your horizons, makes you exit your comfort zone and helps you grow both professionally and personally. The vast majority of us have to work, so why not make the absolute most of every opportunity? I refuse to ever get complacent. I love what I do, and the moment I don't is when I’ll redesign my life again.

3) You've interned with some pretty massive names - how important do you think your internships were for jumpstarting your career?

My internships gave me courage and confidence. Being from a small seaside town, I needed to move to the city (as romanticised as it sounds!). I needed to experience the reality behind my childhood dreams. I purposely chose to study in London so I could intern while I was a student, as I knew I couldn’t afford to once I graduated. In hindsight, I’m astonished by my 18-year-old self’s wisdom!

Sadly, it wasn’t as simple as I thought. I had no contacts, and was told by my lecturers that interning at certain publications was near impossible. And yet, I embarked on a journey that saw me interning at smaller magazines - Company Magazine (RIP) and Psychologies - to the likes of The Times, GQ and British Vogue. Every single one of my university breaks (every Christmas, Easter, summer) was spent interning and it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Besides all of the free makeup and clothes (which I still use, FYI), I discovered what I wanted to do with my life, and what I definitely didn’t. While at Vogue, I helped out with the first ever Vogue Festival and learned about the corporation behind the publication. The experience was invaluable and it was there that I started building up my marketing skills.

4) You have worked both freelance and as part of an in house team. Which do you prefer? What do you think the pros and cons of each are?

Great question! Being freelance taught me how to be resourceful - you never know where your next pay check is coming from and that can be both exhilarating and petrifying. I learned how to send an amazing pitch email, and made so many contacts in the process. The downside is that you don’t have a clearly defined routine. I mean, working from anywhere in the world is great, but it can be difficult to set boundaries. Embarrassingly, I’ve freelanced while getting ready for family weddings in Brazil, and on holiday while my boyfriend was asleep!

Working in-house, however, isn’t without its challenges. Depending on the environment, it can be creatively frustrating. It’s all about finding the right company. As someone who gets bored easily, TripAdvisor is perfect for me as it’s so fast-paced. Above all, my favourite thing is learning from other, more experienced people. Everyone you encounter, good or bad, is mentoring you all the time. I also really value the training budget I have for myself and my team - being able to mentor others to fulfil their potential has been one of the most rewarding things of my life so far.

5) Your blog, BiancaBass.com, is one of my favourites - what inspired you to start your blog? What do you want to achieve with it?

Why thank you! The feeling is mutual. For years, I’d been browsing blogs and Medium on a daily basis. But I’d never contributed. I wanted to, but in such a crowded space it felt pointless. These days, everyone’s a part-time content-creator-slash-something, right? After a failed fashion blog or two, I hadn’t posted on the internet in what felt like forever. I’d resigned myself to a life of lurking.

It was only last Christmas, bored and battling the flu, that I decided to start writing again for myself. I had been reading a lot and, feeling inspired and alive, I finally wrote a few words of my own. My first piece, "Why You Should Write, Even If Nobody's Listening", was a pep talk to myself. It ended up actually convincing me to start my blog. I could never have imagined the reaction once I put my words out there - especially when a few of my posts went “viral”. I thought I was too late to the party to ever do anything with my blog. Each post is another step towards having courage and conviction with my words. So much of life is baby steps.

My main aim is to keep writing honest things that people can see themselves in, too.

In one of my recent newsletters, the inimitable Laura Jane Williams said that she thinks blogging is dead. In many ways, I agree with her. Creating your own content has gone far beyond just being a “blogger”. But whatever medium you use, be it a blog, Instagram, Pinterest or otherwise, sharing your stories will always be relevant. Your voice, whoever you are, is needed, always.

6) So many of your posts really resonate with me and have me saying "YES!!! THAT!!!" - where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?

Honestly, I write the things I would like to read myself. It might be something I haven’t seen anyone else discussing, or something I actually needed to write for my own sanity. Take my post about having a bad day at work, for example. I was driving back from a terrible meeting and thought… I need to write about this. I can’t be the ONLY person out there who simultaneously loves their job, but struggles sometimes. And it turns out I wasn’t. The reaction so far has been incredible, really. I’m so excited to see where this journey takes me.

Interestingly, I’ve noticed that I need to write and publish a post before I can have an idea for the next one. My routine is usually: writing on a weekend, getting a new idea mid-week or so, scribbling down notes here, there and everywhere and then compiling it all on Saturday. Only when it’s published will my next idea appear. So much of my inspiration comes from real life conversations and themes from my everyday life. I think the most relatable, readable pieces do.

7) You're an incredibly hard working lady - what are your thoughts on work life balance? How do you switch off?

Two things - boundaries and treating yourself like you would your best friend. I allow myself to be self-indulgent, often. This can mean saying "no" to meaningless social commitments, treating myself to the occasional spa day, or having a bubble bath each and every night.

You buy things with hours of your life, so I try and make it worth my while. A lot of people in the public eye pride themselves on doing it ALL. But it isn’t humanely possible unless you have a lot of help. Believe me, I’ve been there and burnt out. Nowadays, I’m a big believer of the 80:20 rule - I can be my best self 80% of the time, but I let the other 20% slide. Done is better than perfect mentality. I switch off by going for walks (airplane mode essential). Singing in the shower. Sleeping as much as I can. Dinner with a few trusted friends. And travelling. Holidays are the main thing I spend my money on. I love nothing more than a week or so in a new place to explore, swim in the sea and read some brilliant books.

I also think it’s important to not be solely defined by your work. You need fun and non-profit projects away from your day job to put everything into perspective.

8) Last but not least - what are your big goals for the next couple of years? What would you like to see yourself achieving?

For years, I’ve meticulously planned my next move in life. And so many of the things I’ve said I’d like to do, have actually happened: earning X per year, becoming a manager of a small team, winning certain freelance gigs etc. It’s been nothing short of incredible - “outdreaming" myself at each step! For the next couple of years, however, I’m planning on being open to whatever life throws at me. There are things I’d love to try: writing a book filled with realistic career tips (think before the boardroom, no-bullshit advice!), starting my own content agency and maybe even getting a Masters degree in a non-creative subject to really challenge myself. I want to exit my comfort zone, a little more each day, while getting to know myself better in the process.