March 08, 2014

Thank you, Jane Pratt

There are two things I really don’t understand/like: 1) when people frequently complain that they ‘are bored’ and 2) when people have no interest who moving even the smallest inch outside of their comfort zone. HOW CAN YOU BE BORED WITH SO MUCH AROUND YOU TO PLAY WITH AND INSPIRE YOU. Everybody is different I know, but these two things frustrate me slightly; more so in the workplace than in my personal life, but it’s something I am consciously aware of. Even the simple fact that there are hundreds of incredible Ted Talks which are completely free to watch, that can give you a little spark of a idea that may lead to something bigger. There are free thoughts, opinions and ideas all around you, all you have to do is dip in.

Since the explosion of the Internet, the world is literally at our fingertips and the combination of an impassioned brain and a WIFI connection means you really can make your own luck. You can connect, spread an idea, and inspire others, in a relatively easy, quick and low budget way.

 So, this brings me onto the most recent thing that got me all fired up inside. I was having a little look at what the fuss of #SXSW was all about and stumbled across a video clip from last year, a talk from Jane Pratt called “Secrets of a Publishing Renegade”. Jane Pratt was the founding editor of Sassy magazine at the age of 24 and since then built her own media powerhouse with the most amazing team of writers. I’ve always been a massive fan of Jane, especially xoJane.com and some of her other online properties. She is a massive ambassador of the ‘get on and do it’ mentally, as well as: moving well and truly out of your comfort zone. I agree with her: if you aren’t doing something regularly that scares the crap out of you, then you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.

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I absolutely love and respect many US blog sites for women, I think the UK need a bit more of a push. I think we are often too scared to be REALLY honest with our posts. When I wrote for Amanda De Cadenet’s The Conversation and Zoey Deschanel’s HelloGiggles I felt I could be more honest, they just had a different aura to them. Same with XOJane, Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie mag is another one that clearly so inspired by the days of Sassy magazine that allow younger girls to have a space to really feel they can connect with other like-minded teens.

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The thing about Jane Pratt is she actually cares about helping young women feel better about themselves. As Simon Sinek famously said: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” She wasn’t just the editor, she was intensely involved, she describes the magazine community are her friends, her writers are her family. 

Embarrassingly I had to admit I actually had some tears in eyes when watching her speech. Do you know why? Because hardly anyone TELLS THE TRUTH in the media industry anymore so when they do it’s just SO BRILLIANT. Most female magazines always start the interview with a token famous female celebrity sitting with their Fendi bag, in the Savoy hotel, ordering some ‘unhealthy’ food that they clearly don’t actually eat, whilst looking perfectly tanned and slim. This does not make us feel great or inspired. Writers at XOJane literally say it how it is, sometimes at the expense of their own dignity, and I really thank them for it, ‘cos it makes everyone feel like a human being.

Here are 7 quotes from her speech that I absolutely love:

  1. “Employ a bunch of freaks who make you feel normal”.
  2. “I am at my most comfortable when I am being entirely inappropriate”
  3. “It takes a tremendous amount of passion to do innovative things every day.”
  4. “I think the idea behind putting #firstworldproblem after your tweet is the admit you wrote something superficial and lame”
  5. “Ignore anyone, or the even the voice inside your head, that says you’re under qualified for something. Be bold, be preposterous. “
  6. “Someone else’s loss is not your gain, someone’s else gain is not your loss.”
  7. “A success for one woman is for all women.”
  8. “At XOJane we like to be radically transparent about our flawed lives.”
  9. “I was always more interested in the behind the scenes bits, or that little insight into what was actually going on. So what wanted to produce a media that was ALL about the behind the scenes”.

 Happy International Women’s Day – and THANK YOU, JANE.

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