Having a successful career and love is something that we all want, right? Journalist Amy Elisa Jackson is someone that has been fortunate enough to marry the love of her life, while also serving as a powerhouse in the journalism industry.
Amy Elisa has had her work published in PEOPLE, Ebony, and Essence Magazine, as well as MSN, Business Insider, and Fast Company. She has penned top cover stories with Tyra Banks, Magic Johnson, and Mariah Carey, just to name a few, so I felt as though she'd be the perfect go-getter to sit down with and chat about the balancing act that comes with being a career-oriented woman.
In a little less than an hour, Amy Elisa spoke to my soul while giving me the tea on herself and her career journey. I laughed, and typed away, while trying to fully soak in not only the moment, but all of the bomb advice that she was giving me. Read more about this amazing woman below and get ready to receive genuine advice that you can apply to your professional and personal lives.
What is your 30 second elevator pitch?
My name is Amy Elisa Jackson, I’ve been a journalist and content creator for the past 10 years in the entertainment and lifestyle space. I am proud Stanford graduate, wife, friend, sister, auntie, LA girl, ride or die, bougie to the end.
Can you describe your personal brand in three words?
Witty, lighthearted, and down to earth.
What type of things have you done in your career that has helped you develop your personal brand and reach the level of success that you have now?
A couple of things, first never shying away from speaking engagements. I’ve always been honored when asked to speak or to moderate a panel. One of my first speaking engagements was for PEOPLE magazine and I was doing a fashion show for our "Best & Worst Dressed" issue. I had never done anything like that before and I was nervous, but I did well. Never shying away from those opportunities to step out from behind the keyboard has served me really well.
[Tweet "Never shy away from opportunities."]
Second, I’ve always been very conscious of creating a space where people can find more info about me. I never made any of my social media accounts private. I’ve always been pretty open—the good, the bad, the ratchet, the Christian--all in one. Early on, I created an About Me page, because I thought that it was very important for people to connect with me and see my clips. I now have my own website that isn’t a blog, but is simply my work.
The third thing in terms of branding, and I really, really, really emphasize this one: get a great headshot taken. After I left PEOPLE Magazine, I knew that no matter what I wanted to do next, I needed a face and some type of good representation so I took headshots. I spent $500 and I still have the exact same headshots right now, but consistently you will see the same pictures from me. I really encourage young women to go take really good headshots. Everyone can tell when you have profile picture from when you were at the club. Yes, your face is beat and you looked cute, but there is professional day makeup and night makeup.
What are your thoughts about having different personas on social media?
I think that the person you want the world to receive is the person you put on social media. I am transparent because what I deliver in person is exactly what I am fine with the outside world receiving.
[Tweet "The person you are on social media should be consistent on all accounts. "]
I also believe that there is nothing bad with scrubbing your social media accounts and completely cleaning them out. Also, there should always be a genuine spirit about your social media and whatever presence is out there because people know when it's fake.
When I was in school, I petitioned to take graduate level classes as an undergrad. I wanted to get more out of my undergraduate experience, so I wanted to take higher-level classes.
I think that no matter where you are, it’s important to not take “no” for an answer. “No” does not mean “no” to me, it means “hold on, while we figure it out.” I think that when you are paying $50,000 or when you are paying $10,000 to go to school, you absolutely need to make it work for you. Be tenacious. You can hack your way into getting the education that you want.
In school, I wrote for the Stanford Daily, and I wrote for and edited the Stanford African-American newspaper called The Real News. The summer after my freshman year, I interned for Russell Simmons’ OneWorld magazine. The summer after my junior year, I interned at Source magazine, and Lord Jesus, I was paid $60 a week! $60 a week in New York City was not a game, but I learned a tremendous amount about how to carry myself, having poise, being cool and calm under pressure— and cool and calm under ratchet.
[Tweet "Be cool and calm under pressure, and cool and calm under ratchet."]
I see that you heavily assisted with the launch of Cocoa Fab. What advice do you have for someone that wants to launch their own website?
[During the launch of CocoaFab] I followed the lead of the founders Angela Burt-Murray and Shelly Jones Jennings. The site was already in the incubation stages and needed content so Angela, one of my mentors, called me and I eagerly accepted.
When it comes to launching a company, know the space. Too often, especially in the blog space, people are so eager to launch. Doing your market research and knowing where you fit in the marketplace is important. Knowing how to monetize is really important, and getting really quality writers and a quality website are key. You need to also have a savings to launch anything to be an entrepreneur. You need money you can pay rent with, and to invest in your company. Anyone who is going to invest in you and take time to hear your [business] pitch wants to know that you have skin in the game. It’s very hard to go out and pitch to angel investors or anyone else if you have not invested your own money.
What advice do you have for minority women in the tech industry on standing out?
I believe that we have to work twice as hard as our competition and know twice as much and be twice as good. Believing this has made me stronger and has taught me more.
One of the challenges that women deal with in the workplace is clarity in the workspace. Talking to your manager, having a great working relationship, and telling them about your expectations are important. Ask them about their work style, how they communicate, and their measures of success. For example, if you value feedback, you can tell your manager that. If you don’t prefer socializing in the workplace, you have to voice that to your manager, but also propose some other ways to build camaraderie.
Also, be clear about your talents. Levo has a really great app called Thinking Talents. Your Thinking Talents are things that define you as a worker, employee, and a passionate person. Understanding yourself and what you bring to the table is really half the battle and conveying those things is the other half.
What is the greatest opportunity that you’ve received?
Amy's first cover story with PEOPLE magazine.
When I started at PEOPLE mag I was an intern in 2005, and the greatest opportunity that I had in that space was, one, being hired full time as a writer/reporter. While there, I was really dead set on writing an amazing feature and pitching Tyra Banks. The idea that my editor-in-chief trusted me enough to give me such a major exclusive and follow my gut was huge, that was in 2007, and was really early in my career. The moment gave me my “beat” in covering women’s health and body image, but also in covering African-Americans for PEOPLE magazine.
Many young women struggle with desiring a relationship and career. What type of advice do you have for someone that wants love, but still wants to be a boss in the workplace?
Number one, prepare yourself. If you go to high school to prepare for college, and college to prepare for your career, you have to prepare for marriage. You will not be a wife overnight. You cannot be a mother overnight. Get yourself ready to open up to someone else, to tackles someone else’s challenges, to answer your own questions about what you want out of life and what drives you, what inspires you, what motivates you, what stimulates you. Now I’m not talking about what Beyoncé says is important or what Instagram says, but really knowing for yourself. Knowing you so much so that you can convey it to someone else.
[Tweet "Be prepared for yourself before you are preparing for someone else. "]
I knew my husband in college but we didn’t date then; we reconnected at a Stanford football game in 2011. When we went on our first few dates, I didn’t shy away from being honest about wanting to date with the goal of finding a husband. When you are very clear, and you know what it is that you want, that is helpful. Also, my actions led him to understand and believe that. I knew very soon that he was the one and that he could be the head of my household. We’re such a great team; he’s my forever jumpoff.
Also, I don’t believe in fixing a man!
There are things that you can work on and work with-- if that’s what he wants. I think too often we go down a path trying to fix, mend, and grow, and often times that is not smart. Men really do know what they want and what they are ready for. They are very clear, very honest, simple, easy people. We tend to complicate things. Believe him the first time, and watch what he does, not just what he says.
What changes do your foresee in the journalism industry in the next five years?
The biggest shift will be in how stories are told. I think you will see a lot more video integration, a lot more on the ground reporting, and a lot more iPhone, Periscope, and Skype chat interviews. I think long-form features will come back, and opinion writing will come back stronger than ever. I think there will be an increase in Millennial opinion writers and a diversity of Millennial content.
What is your personal work philosophy?
Hustle hard, but live life to the fullest. I think self-care and balance are really important. But do I work myself into the ground overnight? No, I won’t do that anymore. But I’ve earned the right to do that. I’ve earned my place in life to do that. That was not always the case. I’ve worked really hard for ten years straight and now I’m in a different place where my focus is on my family. I learned a while ago, don’t judge your starting line by someone else’s finish line.
[Tweet "Don’t judge your starting line with my finish line."]
I think that hustling hard, but living live to the fullest is one of the most important things that we can learn from Amy. Leave us a comment below on how Amy's words have inspired you.