“ I guess… something important about my career and the way I face my work is, some people define themselves by their work and careers. I used to be someone like that and to be honest I love so much what I get to do, and it is so intertwined with the way I see the world anyway, that it couldn’t be any different. But I try to do it with a healthy approach, I try to pursue other interests besides those related to work, have other activities, dedicate myself to the people I love, to being present, to enjoying free time doing nothing. And I guess that is central, at least at somepoint of a young persons life, specially facing the world and the influx of information and stimuli that we are face with these days. I learned from my short path that time is the most important thing in my life and I am very strict on how I enjoy it. I believe that will keep me steady and going for a long time, rather than having a quick, but explosive, unsustainable career path.” Ana (29 years old).
Ana Freitas is a digital content strategist and digital influencer. She built her career around journalism work in some of the biggest newspapers and news outlets in the country as a reporter, while closely building her personal image and profile influence online, mainly amongst journalism and social media, social online activism and tech community in Brazil. In 2013, she was chosen one of the 25th most influent personalities in Brazilian digital ecosystem due to her independent analysis and coverage of the social movement that rose to the streets in her country that year. Currently, she works as an consultant on digital strategy and community for brands, publishers and products.
For #YmazingPeople Ana Freitas, one of the 25th most influent personalisites in Brazilian digital ecosystem, gave us some exciting and informative insights about her life and career:
Why do you do what you do and how did you get to this point?*
I am a graduated journalist, and I have became a specialist in digital culture/lifestyle/online communities and online content in general. Currently I work mostly as a consultant for publishers and brands on how to improve their content for their audience without compromising on quality and ethical journalistic standards.
I got to this point, I guess, working a lot for all kinds of publishers and brands – and also putting myself and my work “out there”. I got my first paid gig at 16, writing music articles for a brazilian website – I literally got it by writing them and offering myself to do it, with a couple articles as portfolio – and have since written for dozens of different publishers, with different audiences and goals. So now, moving to a consultant position was natural. Another thing is I also educated myself technically, so I got technical skills such as digital marketing, coding and design (not a lot, but enough) that are rather uncommon amongst my colleagues that work with journalism. Oh, and I read a lot. About everything. I am very curious and to be honest I guess that is very important to my position.
If you had a message for your 10 years younger you what would it be?*
I would say… it’s ok to work as hard as you are now, it is going to pay off. But don’t be so hard on yourself and on your health, you are going to accomplish more personally and professionally if you get to be not so demanding with yourself. Also, start waking up early and exercising now. 😉
If you had 1 question to ask the 20-30 years older you – what would it be?*
I guess I would ask what abilities and skills in my profession are still useful in the market. Because I think in 20 or 30 years, AI will be advanced enough to be able to write creative content that’s much more efficient than humans could ever do. So the question would be, what aspect of my profession I should focus on improving that will still be useful as workforce in 20-30 years?
What drives you?*
A few things: informing people so they will be more tolerant and have a broader point of view of the world that surrounds them, telling stories in general and also taking care of myself – as in, my personal life, health and wellbeing.
What routines do you have in your daily life? (the kind that helps you get everything done)*
I actually have a few things I need to do so I broaden my chances of having a satisfying and productive day: having proper breakfast, working out as many days as I can (I currently commute to work by bike and swim 3 times a week), being home by 9pm most days, going to bed at 0am most of days, not postponing anything that can be done in less than 5 minutes, keep a chore list (including professional and personal tasks).
What was the biggest challenge for you to jumpstart your career? And how did you solved it?*
I guess I can’t properly answer this questions because my career and my work have always been a work in progress, as in one of those metaphors: you put a single brick everyday, do it with attention and passion and with everything you’ve got, and then some years from now you will get a house (probably). Except I had no idea what kind of house I was building then. I felt I should start piling the bricks up and at some point I would get a hint.
I guess, to be honest, the biggest challenge was actually to find the kind of house I wanted to build (in this metaphor, which way I wanted to swerve my career to). I hit a wall (also metaphorically, luckily – I didn’t know I was so fond of construction work metaphors) around 3 years ago, when I had no idea what I wanted to do with what I knew and my professional experiences because I saw myself as a reporter and, still, couldn’t point a single local publisher I would like to work at. So when that happened I started looking for different jobs, that didn’t list the word “journalist” or “reporter” on it, but demanded skills I either had or could/would like to acquire. While doing that, I worked on personal projects and also searched for voluntary work in education, teaching socially vulnerable children. And just kept working. At some point my possibilities were clearer and opportunities started showing up.
Who is/are your role model(s)? Why him/her/them/it specifically? *
I don’t really have any, apart from maybe my mom. She has a cliched story for a country like Brazil: she was born in a very poor family, got pregnant at 17 by accident and any dreams she might might have had at the time, even considering her lack of opportunities and role models, were then crushed by the fact that I was coming to the world. hahahaha. She married my father then, but they split a couple of years later and she raised me and my brother almost 100% by herself to be successful, caring, good people against all odds – but not only that, she also is a successful executive herself. She managed not just to give us a broader universe than the one she had, but also to pursue an infinitely better universe for her – she worked and studied hard, graduated and post-graduated in her late 30s-early 40s and now oversees the trading process of a huge international company. So, yeah, I guess I do have a role model and she is very close to home.
Who mentored you, and why?*
I can say I have at least two mentors. It’s funny how those things work, because every now and then I come across articles telling young professionals the importance of having a mentor and such. But I do believe having mentor is not something you can plan. All you can do is, again, work hard, try everyday to be the best version of yourself and somehow you will probably be surrounded by a lot of interesting people, some of them will be more experienced and will act as mentor. One of them is a former editor that gave me (and still give) great advice whenever I was struggling with my career. The other currently owns a digital agency and I met him long ago, when I was starting my own blog at the blogs golden age (in Brazil, 2007-2008), and gave me advice, counseling and even technical support (hosting my blog in his server for free). Those two are amongst my best friends these days, and they are still the ones I go to when I need career-related advice.
What was the best advice you have ever received? Like, seriously, ever?*
Ok, that is hard. I gave myself some time to think about it and I guess it is: “Don’t worry about committing mistakes or ‘failing’, there is always time to restart” and that is specially true when you are young, say under 30 – but tbh also works for any age. We are always hearing stories about people past their 40s, 50s or 60s that start again with a different project or career. And every so often when we are young we push ourselves to success so hard and blame ourselves very hard as well if it doesn’t work out the way we imagined. Comparing ourselves to other is always unfair because every story is too different. So cast your net in several directions, don’t bet everything you have in a single path, but also understand that your early 20s will seem like an eternity ago when you are in your 30s. Sorry about the cliche, but really, it’s never too late to start something new.
What could young hustlers learn from you? *
I guess the most valuable thing people could learn from me is: don’t be shy, don’t be afraid to get closer to inspiring people, to venture on inspiring projects. You don’t need to be invasive or annoying, but a certain level of nosiness and stalking is very important to meet people. Also, ideas are just ideas, they are worth nothing if you don’t execute them.
What have you learnt from GenX/Babyboomers and from the younger GenZ?*
I guess from the GenX I learned some stability is important too. I don’t like stability myself, I am always changing things in my life, but to a certain level of comfort, it allows you to be your best at the changes you wanna work on. From the GenZ, I learned tolerance, to be more carefree and self-confident, and that privacy is more important than they seem to think.
What is your best advice for others?
Again: do not compare your path to other people’s path. Do not engage on feelings that won’t definitely bring anything good, such as self blaming to a paralysing level. And be nice to people and to the world! It works: the life will be mostly nice back.
How do you influence society? *
I guess I do it by remaining relevant, and that means being always ahead on general trends and the zeitgeist in general. Being very curious, I do not only consume information, I constantly look for reasons and explanations on how things are/happen. That often puts me ahead of most people and they tend to consider me relevant when I explain to them things they haven’t yet realized. Also, I consume a lot of content in every platform imaginable. That helps remaining relevant too.
How should/could GenY/GenZ change worklife/education/leadership/career paths/ media…?*
We were raised in a more horizontal world, in the sense that internet at early stages allowed us to talk and reach anyone, any knowledge. Now there are gates, lots of them, but its much less than it used to be. So its natural that hierarchies and social levels are harder to digest – they don’t make any sense, of course. So thats something that our generation could help changing for good, hopefully. I guess more flexible jobs and the idea that a employer buys your time, not you, for instance, it’s great teaching too.
From your perspective, what are the biggest differences between the young generations (Y (1980-1995) &Z born after 1995) in comparison to GenX (1965-1980) and Babyboomers (1950-1965)?*
That’s tricky. I guess we tend to see more differences than there actually is, because older generations have always called the younger self-entitled, selfish yada yada yada. So that’s just adults being adults. But I guess the biggest difference is actually the number of possible paths our generation has laid before of it, regarding life goals, compared to those that were laid before boomers and Xers. I am of course talking from a very privileged place, because for some minorities the paths are still very restricted, especially in my country. But in general, midclass Boomers and Xers had only a single path to follow: they would marry someone of the opposite gender at their early 20s most, they would start a career in their late teens and stick to it their whole life, and by 30 they would already have kids, a mortgage and a car. And that would be expected from them, and anyone who felt like doing anything different wasn’t considered normal. And now we do have several paths for midclass kids in western world (I do know Europe and USA do not consider Brazil to be western world, but that’s highly debatable – for standardizing reasons, let’s assume I live in a context that is very similar to the context a mid class kid would get in the first world). Most of us expect to be in college at some point in our late teens or early 20s, maybe get a job and start a career, but marrying someone is not so expected anymore, let alone someone from the same gender. So I digress, but I think the main difference is the amount of paths we are offered and how there is not as many pressure to follow one single path anymore.
What will be the biggest challenge for humans in the next 10 years?*
Wow. OK… I guess it will be tolerance. We are probably entering a dark time in history – history is cyclical and we have face a long period of relative world peace. And the biggest struggle presented to us in the past two years had been the rising intolerance, that is very likely to lead to big conflicts. So yes, it’s tolerance and acceptance of the difference.
How would you want others to describe you?
Well, ideally? Someone inspiring and fun (I sound like Michael Scott from The Office, so I should review my expectations probably). I honestly don’t know how they describe me, but inspiring and fun would be nice.
If you could meet every person you want, who would that be and what question (yes, 1 question only!) would you love to ask?
I would ask what were the most happy moments of their lives. I guess it’s a good question to learn a bit of someone just straightaway and break the ice.
Who are the (2-)three most inspiring young people the world should know right now and why?*
Damn, that’s tough. I am super inspired by Viviane Duarte (https://www.facebook.com/vivianeduarte), a communicator and entrepreneur that runs an empowerment program for socially vulnerable girls to help them structure and execute their dreams by teaching business and communications skills. But she probably doensn’t fit your “young people” expectations, I believe she is in her late 40s. So… Ariane Dias and Jessica Grecco from brazilian project Indiretas do Bem, two publicity coworkers who started a content page as a joke and turned it into a business brilliantly. They now have more than 7 million followers, turned their idea into a franchise that takes inspiring messages to people, sold hundreds of thousands books in several different languages… they are outstanding.
Thank you very much Ana for that #ymazing interview!
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