The way that we approach work is changing, and fast. The Internet happened, and left us with the tools to create, share and promote our ideas overnight. London-born Phoebe Lovatt responds to all of this (and much more), in her first book, The Working Woman’s Handbook, which was released earlier this year. In it, the journalist-turned-CEO covers how to launch and nourish a career, while striking a work/ life balance along the way.
The handbook, described as “a book created to provide all the ideas, insights and inspirations you need for your successful creative career,” is a manual and motivator rolled into one. Lovatt urges women to “get your mind right”, “be savvy”, and most importantly “to collaborate” with each other. This philosophy can be felt throughout the book, as she invites nine women who inspired her own ideas - like Elaine Welteroth of Teen Vogue and Sharmadean Reid founder of WAH Nails - to share advice they wish they were given when younger.
The Working Woman’s Handbook comes off the back of The WW Club, that Lovatt created in 2015—a physical space for women to meet, collaborate, share knowledge and if nothing else, hang out. Below, we share some of Lovatt’s career gold dust.
Build confidence as if your job depends on it
“Call it cultural conditioning. Call it Imposter Syndrome, Call It The Inane Pressure of Being a Woman in the 21st Century. Call it whatever you like. But know that low self-confidence is the greatest enemy of professional progress and that if you don’t believe you’re capable of establishing the career you want, it’s unlikely that you ever will.
“Confidence comes from two sources: doing and believing. The doing part is about setting goals and executing them—even if it’s not in the exact way you had envisioned—and therefore bolstering your self-belief. The believing part is less tangible, and harder to build. It comes from creating an inner source of strength that keeps you motivated when things go wrong, or seem as if they’re about to. Confidence, like proper email etiquette and successful pitching, is a professional skill you must develop. Devote time to building this skill, just like any other.”
Cut stuff out
“One way to have more time is to simply cut stuff out. Women are particularly prone to the pressure to have and do it all: to thrive in our careers, have “perfect” bodies, maintain active social lives, and be flawless partners, mothers, and homeowners. Needless to say, it’s impossible to achieve this level of perfection without making yourself miserable. Make peace with not being able to do everything, and then cut one thing out of your schedule (anything that doesn’t bring you happiness and/ or decent money is a good place to start).”
Find your crew
“There are lots of associations, member networks, and meetups that you can access online and in real life with a quick Google search. Some are paid, others are totally free, and they might offer anything from physical space to digital resources to private online networks.
“Spend some time considering what you need from a network and seeking that one that suits you best. Connecting with likeminded people (especially women) will help you stay motivated and feel supported as you develop your career.”
Get your social media intake under control
“Chances are, you’re spending a lot of time on your phone—probably more than you’re comfortable or happy with. Create some rules around your phone usage to find a more comfortable balance. This might be as simple as avoiding Instagram and twitter before 12 p.m. Set your emails to “fetch,” not “push” to your phone. Leave your phone in your bag rather than on your desk. Go for walks without it. The world will not crumble around you.”
Know your references
“If you want to do better work, create with a sense of context and concept. Even if you’re working with new technology and contemporary cultural ideas, there’s always a precedent to be explored and learnt from.
“While you are hatching plans to launch your big idea, take a moment to look backward as well. How have other people manifested similar concepts using different formats? Who is considered the master of your art form? What historical or technological shift gave birth to the tradition in which you now work?
“Thinking about this stuff will enrich the quality of your work. Even if your references aren’t obvious on the surface (and they shouldn’t be, unless in an act of explicit homage), you’ll be all the more creatively confident by just knowing that they’re there.”