Realistic career advice from writer/editor Bianca Bass


Bianca Bass is a London-based writer, editor and content strategist. Her popular newsletter includes interviews with entrepreneurs and interesting links related to creativity. She also blogs regularly about her own career musings. In this interview, she talks about creativity, risk-taking, her writing style, and more.

How would you explain what you do?

The short answer is that I write! I write a blog and newsletter about careers, creativity and being human, I lead TripAdvisor’s copywriting team and I consult freelance clients on their content strategies.

I’m incredibly curious about the human condition, especially around the topic of work. So I decided to explore it further through my blog and the response has been overwhelming. I share my stories while leaving enough space for other people to see themselves in my writing, too.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘There’s so much overly-filtered and contrived career content out there. I wanted to bring freshness and brutal honesty to the subject.' – BiancaBass” quote=”There’s so much overly-filtered and contrived career content out there. I wanted to bring freshness and brutal honesty to the subject.”]

Because work is often difficult and boring and isolating, career advice isn’t one-size-fits-all and, no matter who we are, we all need reminders that we’re doing ok.

What are you currently working on?

Honestly? Growing my audience. It’s so easy for me to just write, write, write. I have so many ideas. So many topics I want to explore. But any blog or website should have an 80:20 rule. 20% content creation, and 80% promotion. So, above everything, I’m focusing on being my own publicist right now.

How would someone recognize your work?

(Hopefully!) by the no-bullshit tone of voice. Readers have commented how simple my work is and it’s intentional. I want my writing to be accessible to anyone – whether English is your first language or your third. Plus, my friends and family have commented on how much my blog actually sounds like me, which I’ll take as a compliment.

My litmus test when publishing something is: is this exactly how I would articulate this in person, over breakfast, on the phone? In fact, that’s my number one piece of advice to anyone who writes: write how you speak. You have a voice. Use it.

How do you choose your core work and side projects?

My core work is circumstantial. I do my day job for the same reason we all do: money. However, I’m grateful to work for a forward-thinking, global company. I’ve learnt so much. I became a manager of a team when I was just 23, and it was the biggest and most positive learning curve of my life to date. I was intimidated to manage a group of people who were all older than me. I was totally out of my comfort zone.

And that’s how I’ve chosen my core work and side projects ever since. If it makes me feel uncomfortable, I know I’m doing it right.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘If it feels scary to hit publish, that’s when I know I must. If it’s a project I feel is out of my comfort zone, I always say yes.' – @BiancaBass” quote=”If it feels scary to hit publish, that’s when I know I must. If it’s a project I feel is out of my comfort zone, I always say yes.”]

What is the piece of work you are most proud?

I’m continually proud of my newsletter and the audience I’ve grown in just a few months. I love the format: blog posts, design-led visuals, recommended links and a candid interview with someone I admire. It’s something I would love to receive myself. Again, I think that’s an important question to ask yourself when creating: is this something I would love myself?

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

Often from the most unexpected places! It can be an unassuming conversation with a co-worker, or catching up with a friend and hearing their latest dilemma. I listen to situations, identify the core feeling or fear and then write about it. But mostly it’s from my own experiences. In many ways, my day job is my muse.

However, on uneventful weeks or at times when I’m feeling deflated, I take myself to a book store, select a variety of things at random and browse the content pages. There’s always a topic or even a word that triggers a thought, and that eventually becomes a blog post.

How would you define creativity?

I think everyone’s definition of creativity is deeply personal. To me, it’s freedom of expression. It’s producing something without money at the forefront of my mind. It’s the thing that keeps me sane. It keeps me balanced. It brings me a little closer to myself each day. It’s not doing it because I feel I should, but because I have to.

Who inspires you or who do you look up to?

So many people! I’m constantly looking for new people to follow and discover. Seth Godin, Elizabeth Gilbert, Nora Ephron, Alexandra Franzen, Emma Gannon, Laura Jane Williams, James Altucher, Jon Westenberg, Jamie Varon. The list goes on.

Where can people find you next?

I love connecting with people via Twitter, my blog or my newsletter. Or, preferably, all three!

Favorite tune at the moment?

I’m a huge Frank Ocean fan and I adore his new album, Blond. I can’t stop playing “Ivy” right now.

You can learn more about Bianca’s work on her blog and in her newsletter. Follow Bianca on Twitter and Instagram.

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Do you love the work or the idea of it?

motivational penguin

Do what you love. Love what you do. These cliches, however, are missing important pieces: Do the work and be good at what you do.

People think they can write a book, but they never set aside the time to work on it. People want to get in shape, but they never hit the gym. People aspire to be an artist, but they never go to the studio to paint.

“Everything is work,” writes Brianna Wiest. She continues:

“People usually can’t differentiate what they really love and what they love the idea of.”

Instead of doing what you think you love, do something you're already good at and that other people find useful. Never underestimate your innate talents. “Do what you have to give,” Briana implores.

Briana's advice is the opposite of a book I read this summer entitled Grit by Angela Duckworth. In it, the author praises the ethics of pertinacity. The book's message is trite but true, assuming the person succeeds. Other times, it might be wiser for people to quit and move on.

But there's also a third way to look at careerism. Instead of accepting your God-given skills or striving for success, you try new opportunities that come your way so you can grow your mindset/skillset. You decide to challenge yourself, fail, and learn quickly which takes a lot of courage.

People that excel at their job still need to be tested. Skills get you places. But so does curiosity and reflection. Remember Steve's wisdom, “don't settle.”

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Listen: Your Office’s Hidden Artists and How to Work with Them

It’s hard to think of yourself as an artist when you’re chained to a cubicle. But coders, designers, and CEOs can still think of themselves as artists in the sense that they too cherish their unique perspective and creativity.

The last thing an artist-worker wants to deal with is someone that sets a specific direction for a project without taking their input into consideration. Naturally, artists butt heads with the advertisers and marketers that try to commercialize (re: control) the experience or product.

All artists need to feel empowered. After all, it’s their work that gets reflected in the end.

HBR Podcast: “Your Office’s Hidden Artists and How to Work with Them

Bonus Dialectic: Creatives often disagree with other creatives. Just ask Rakim.

“Was signed to Aftermath, scheduled to release an album with my guy Dr. Dre. The album was dismantled because of creative differences. Thee end to the new beginning.”

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