I had a boss who once told me “Turn every negative into a positive.”
It stuck. (He was a good one.)
I can confidently say this mindset leads to solutions we don’t see right away.
Which brings me to experiences – experiences that can feel frustrating, negative in the moment but also wake us up, and ultimately give us a purpose.
Karin Eldor is a writer for Create & Cultivate, Levo, Teen Vogue and Coveteur. Although she’s always known she’s wanted to be a writer, she didn’t always know which projects to choose and where to channel her strengths.
And, she wasn’t necessarily clear on the larger why behind it all until she did the work and started identifying key experiences in her life that led to a common theme: feminism.
And what was the result? Well…a writing gig at Teen Vogue, laser focus, more of the work she wants to do, to name a few.
In today’s interview, Karin and I discuss how frustrating experiences can lead to our best discoveries, and how finding focus can lead to big changes in our work.
Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you start out?
I’m from Montreal, Canada — born and raised. I always knew I wanted to be a writer or do something related to Communications: my childhood dreams fluctuated between wanting to be a published author, to being an editor at InStyle, to being a real-life “Murphy Brown”, the TV anchor portrayed by Candice Bergen in the late ‘80s!
I graduated from Concordia University’s Communications Program in 2000, and started straight out the gate as a Senior Editor at a then-fledgling startup, AskMen.com (which went on to become a remarkable Internet success story — this made me feel incredibly proud!). While there, I was also the “Fashion & Lifestyle” and “Dating” correspondent, and learned the basics of SEO and grassroots online marketing.
The funny thing is, while I was in college, I remember people always asking me about my degree, and asking: “What do you plan to do with a degree in Communications?” It used to make me nervous at the time, since Communications isn’t a straightforward career program, not to mention that this was the early 2000s, so pre-social media and a time when the digital world was in its infancy. But I kept an open mind and decided to trust the process. This has become my M.O. and career mantra!
After 5 years at AskMen.com, I went on to the corporate retail world, working in the marketing departments at a Canadian fashion retailer named Reitmans, as well as at ALDO, where I worked as the Social Media Manager and Copywriter for 3 years.
While working at ALDO, I was managing my side hustle of writing career articles for one of the original (or OG) career websites, Monster. I felt incredibly inspired to help others find their way, and empower people in their own careers.
Exactly a year ago, I decided to leave my job at ALDO (which was my dream job!) to pursue my own business as a writer and copywriter.
Although I loved everything about it and have always been a fashion person, the pull to do my own thing was burning inside me.
What is your mission, the work you want to do?
Thanks to #WorkBigger, I learned to define my mission — here it is:
My mission is to offer guidance and mentorship to women by aligning with brands that value self-expression, integrity and impact.
As a result, I write career and lifestyle-related articles for online magazines like Create & Cultivate, Coveteur, Levo, and Monster. In addition to still supporting brands like ALDO with their copywriting, I also write retail and social media advice for Shopify and 818 Agency. I love writing retail advice as it allows me to interview entrepreneurs making a difference in their industries, and also helps me offer takeaway advice to budding entrepreneurs.
What led you there? Can you recall any experiences you had that pushed you to your mission?
I like to say that I didn’t choose the feminist life, the feminist life chose me! I never considered myself a feminist, but after delving into my values and key life and career experiences as part of the Work Bigger program, it turns out that I am deeply tied to feminist issues, empowering women, and encouraging people to live their authentic selves and use their voice.
Two things led me there:
1: Experiencing the inequality of women in the workplace first-hand, as well as among my coworkers and friends. Even a year ago, when I told some peers and friends that I was leaving my full-time job to go out on my own, I was met with unwavering support, but also with comments and questions like:
“Wow, you’re so lucky you can do that” and “Yeah that makes sense, you want to be able to spend more time with your kids, right?”
And the absolute worst: Several women jokingly asked me “How’s retirement?”
Wow, right? I was floored! If I were a man, the reactions would be: “Good for you for having an entrepreneurial spirit and being a risk-taker.”
2: When I was working at some jobs that I didn’t feel passionate about, I remember feeling like I wasn’t following my truth. And it’s important for me to empower others to also follow their passions and feel fulfilled, whether by offering up networking or interview tips.
What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome these challenges?
My biggest challenge has been a lack of focus in the first half of my year; I was saying “yes” to all opportunities offered to me, which I later realized was due to fear. Fear of not being busy enough, fear of not having work someday. (Likely normal concerns for someone just leaving the stability of a full-time job.) And most of all, fear of saying no and disappointing others.
But once I realized that the work I say “no” to is actually opening up opportunities for the real “yeses” I want, it has become easier. I still do find balance tough to achieve, but have come a long way!
Today I am more decisive, less hesitant, and have razor sharp focus in terms of what I’m pursuing. (Tweet It!)
At Work Bigger, one of our goals is to build creativity among readers and community members. We know this is a key skill required to thrive in the future of work. Can you share your definition of creativity?
Creativity is the ability to not only think outside the box, but also use your own set of crayons. See things the way you interpret them, and don’t be afraid to color outside the lines. Be fearless and embrace self-expression!
When are you most creative?
For starters, I love spin class, and find that I have positive and creative thoughts while on the bike. I don’t know if it’s the music or the adrenaline, but I always need to jot down ideas for future pitches and fun phrases for articles in my iPhone “Notes.”
I am also in my creative zone while reading fashion magazines; I get incredibly inspired and feel immersed in thought while flipping through glossies.
My best creative time is early in the a.m., when my home is still and I am distraction-free. I fire up some classic ‘90s hip-hop, Lauryn Hill, or my new go-to, Rhye, and let my creative juices flow…
What are your favorite go-to resources or experiences to help you build your creativity?
My favorite go-to resources are:
- The book Creative Confidence, by Tom and David Kelley
- Online sites like Create & Cultivate, Levo and the Working Women’s Club – it’s always important to get a feel for what conversations women are having. What’s the opposite of tone deaf? Well, my goal is to never be tone deaf, but rather always have my finger on the pulse of the current state of women’s affairs and general career climate.
- Scrolling my social media feeds also inspires me to get a feel for the conversations.
What advice do you have for 20 to 30-somethings who want to make an impact through their work but are currently feeling stuck?
My biggest piece of advice is to look inward and be open to vulnerability. Ask those closest to you for thoughts about how they perceive you, it might help you find your focus too. Ask yourself what is most important to you and see what small steps you can take to get closer towards it. And finally, embrace the process and don’t put so much pressure on yourself; it’s important to Work Bigger, but getting there can take small, simple steps.
Follow Karin Eldor on Instagram to stay up to date with her work.