A born creator, Brianne Burrowes’ favorite childhood picture is an image of herself holding chunky crayons to a granular coloring book page. With her hair in pigtails and six-year-old chub tucked into turquoise overalls, she had a personal style that made her a fashionista before she knew it was the cool thing to do.
Brianne hails from Polson, a tiny lake town in northwest Montana. While growing up she fantasized of the days she would make the final call on editorial content, nestle ads among the most ideal copy and dream up the covers that arrive in the mail boxes of thousands of readers multiple times a year. Little did she know that chance would come at age 22.
Brianne served as the editor-in-chief of the Montanan, the alumni magazine at The University of Montana, for three years. In that role she produced packages about the most successful alums the university had to offer. After all, she believes it’s not only what you know, but who you know. And she finds Montana connections everywhere …
She now is a digital strategist at WONGDOODY, a marketing ideas agency, where she serves as the editor-in-chief of CareerSparx, a website and online course devoted to helping recent college grads develop the skills to land their first jobs.
Brianne is a firm believer in finding your passion – whatever it is that consumes someone to the point of all-nighters and taking big risks – and then acting on one’s instincts. It was these qualities, after all, that brought her where she is today. That is why she launched IWantHerJob.com, the website for independent-thinking women everywhere in search of the next best thing. The site aims to help girls find their dream jobs while also profiling successful women who’ve found happiness through their work. Her one mission in life is to inspire others and convince them that they can do anything they put their heart into.
What are you working on right now?
A few months ago I launched I Want Her Job. The purpose of the site is to convince other women that they can have their dream jobs. I find that the “glass ceiling” still exists, and even though great strides have been made to shatter it, we as women are still only making cracks.
In addition, I find that a lot of people these days know that they want to do something meaningful, yet they don’t know exactly what it is they want to do. I feel that once someone identifies what it is that really makes them tick, they are an unstoppable force of nature. It’s my goal to coax that out of women through an inspiring community profiling women in all sorts of jobs — from a flight attendant and mixologist to a NASCAR photographer and Emmy winner. Each women can make a mark on the world if she invests herself in work that is of worth to others and fulfills herself.
What are three trends that excite you?
Even though it has been out for months and I have yet to part with my cash and buy one (I’m waiting for the next edition), the innovative opportunities that exist on it astound me. I remember when the iPod came out none of my friends could believe they could carry their CD collection around in their pockets. Now, as a woman who has loved magazines since my mom purchased my first issue of Seventeen in sixth grade, I feel butterflies in my stomach even thinking that I could carry around a year’s worth of Vogue, Cosmo, Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar – in my purse. As someone who forgets the specifics, but remembers the cover of the magazine an article was in, this is invaluable.
In addition, I was blown away by the video Time Inc. created showing what a tablet version of Sports Illustrated would be capable of producing for readers. With an iPad, a magazine can literally come to life. You can read it, watch videos and interact in a community. It’s an editor’s dream come true. And as a former editor myself, I get excited thinking of the possibilities it could launch.
2) Flip video cameras
In September of last year the executive vice president of the university posed a challenge to my co-workers and me. He said that while many students knew we had a university president, not many were familiar with him. How could we approach this opportunity to connect UM’s students with their president in a bigger way? The next week I pitched an idea. “Let’s put UM’s president on YouTube in an exclusive series where he speaks to students directly. We can pivot off President Obama’s weekly YouTube addresses, but spice them up with a little editing to make him even more relatable and interactive,” I said. I don’t think I took a breath the whole time I spoke (as is often the case when I get really excited about an idea), but my boss was willing to take a risk with the idea. He told me to find a way to make the series happen.
This idea never would have been possible without the invention of a Flip camera. (Ok, we would have found another way … but because of the Flip, it was a lot easier.) They’re cheap. They film in HD. They’re unobtrusive, and the best thing is, they have a USB port that flips out and plugs directly into your computer. They make video on the fly a reality. And in today’s world, when we all have a constant need to be and feel connected, it’s imperative to have one. Mine is always in my purse.
3) The Influence of the Tweet
Ashton Kutcher has more than 5.8 million Twitter disciples. Kim Kardashian has more than 4.9 million. (Oprah is only slightly behind her at this point with 4.3 million. Let that sink in a minute.) While it’s not a new phenomenon for the power of celebrity to sell a product and promote a lifestyle, the way it’s now taking shape is like nothing we ever could have imagined just a few years ago. My favorite aspect of Twitter, and this may sound odd coming from someone in the media industry, is that it takes the power out of the press and into the mouth (or tweet) of the person giving that message. With the onset of Twitter, it’s no longer necessary to get celebrity news off of E! Why do that when all they show on their screen crawler now is a ticker of John Mayer’s tweets? I can subscribe to those directly. How did I find out about the earthquake in Haiti? Twitter. And how did a revolution gain momentum under an oppressive regime in Iran? Yes, again with the power of tweets.
While even writing this now feels outdated (as I know something new is most likely in development) the way we are thinking is changing. Media (and the fundamental shift of live accounts versus reporting) is shifting faster than we can keep pace with. I can’t think of anything more exciting, challenging or full of opportunity than bringing power back to where it belongs – the people. That said, it’s also time for media to raise the bar. I see traditional reporting outlets render themselves useless by reporting on social media. It’s time to innovate rather than let technology make reporting obsolete.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am most fulfilled when an idea grows from a thought to something tangible. It gets me more excited than anything. While I’m very organized, I used to write my ideas down on sticky notes. They would blanket everything, and often times I would find some of my best concepts nestled inside the pockets of last season’s purse. A friend of mine introduced me to Moleskine journals. I like the smaller ones that come in shades of lime green and pink. I can throw two to four of them in my purse. I have one for work and another for my personal life. Now, whenever I get an idea I write it down and check it off once it becomes reality. Not only is it personally rewarding to see all I’ve accomplished listed out, but after time it starts to reveal to me the thought patterns of how I think and develop ideas, which has benefited me even more.
That said, the biggest part of bringing an idea to life (after you learn how to not lose it … ) is to just sit down and make it happen. Buy a domain name. Go buy a book on the subject. Use Google to your advantage and find out everything you can on the topic. Take small steps to make it happen, use technology to help you promote it and be tireless and relentless in the pursuit of your passion. If it’s something that consumes you from when you’re brushing your teeth to meeting friends for drinks, it’s worth doing. If you have a passion and an idea, you already have everything you need to realize your dream as a reality. Technology has leveled the playing field in a way nothing else has. Take advantage of it, and make your dream come true.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Find your true passion. Pursue it until you have nothing in you. A previous boss of mine told me I am capable of more than even I know. That statement hasn’t left my psyche, not only because it shocked me, but because he’s right. Keep following your passion with persistence and without abandon. Then still don’t stop. Network like your life depends on it. (It does.) And always, always follow your gut. And never forget to dress for who you want to be. When you play the part, you act the part, and others will take notice.
Is it true you like fashion and NASCAR?
Although it would probably make Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour shudder under her five pounds of fat, yes, sparkly jackets as well as the smell of burnt rubber fascinate me. But before you start formulating some quirky response in your head about hicks and heels, let me explain.
When a celebrity walks down the red carpet she will tell you the labels adorning her body from head to toe. This is no different than a NASCAR driver thanking the sponsors from bumper to spoiler during a post-race interview. It’s about the thrill of each (finding the best butt-hugging jeans or seeing my favorite driver win after someone is spun out in front of him), but it’s also about the brand, and more importantly, the business behind the brand. How does a winning driver affect the sales of a beer company? How is it that the hottest 20-something starlet can strut down the media line of a premiere and wait-list an Hervé Legér dress for six months? This is what fascinates me about marketing, media and our culture. And while no one has quite “figured” me out, I feel a diverse grouping of interests sets me apart from the competition. Find yours. Now. What are you waiting for?
Peruse Brianne Burrowes’ Blog: www.iwantherjob.com
Visit Brianne Burrowes’ Site: www.brianneburrowes.com
Connect With Brianne Burrowes: www.linkedin.com/in/brianneburrowes
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