Life

New Friends, Levo League, and Business Skills

“Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose”
― Leonardo da Vinci

I absolutely loved my degree at university – a BA in European Studies (emphasis in British history, literature, and linguistic development) and a Minor in history. But I will be the first to admit that as educated as I believed my degree helped make me, there were a host of other skills I didn’t learn at school. Among them were a number of business skills that I’ve spent the last year working purposefully to acquire. I’ve had to develop a book keeping system. I’ve had to learn how to set prices for my services, and how to eventually change them to reflect new skills, value, and economic realities. I’ve had to learn how to do taxes as a freelancer – yick. I’ve learned about coding and SEO and other things still beyond my current scope, but not as much as they once were. But one of the most important things I never learned at school was “networking,” and I’m still learning how to do it well.

Since transitioning to freelancing full time, I’ve worked from home. For a few months I was working from a kitchen table in the middle of a central Virginia in a rural town. Now I work largely from a desk in a foreign city. I love meeting people, swapping stories and information, but chances to engage with other professionals (freelance or not) to say nothing of people are not always easy to come by.

Which is why I was thrilled that Levo League was organizing an evening of networking and negotiation training and discussion last weekend! I signed up immediately and last Thursday, off I trotted to it.

I first heard of Levo through a blogger whose skill and tenacity I admire tremendously, especially since she’s five years younger than me and already accomplishing things I find truly impressive things even though we have very different interests. Levo is a network and community of and for Millennial professional women of all stripes. They offer content and resources in the forms of articles, training, events like the one I hosted, and what they call “Office Hours,” conversations and presentations from big names in their industries like Warren Buffet, Cathy Calvin of the United Nations Foundation, Deborah Spar the President of Barnard College, and Nanette Lepore.

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Why YES, I am bragging about where I get to go to work sometimes.

The event I went to was hosted next door to the Tower of London (the views were stellar) and one of the best things I’ve done in a long time. I met Maxie McCoy, a woman and writer who I’ve girl-crushed on from afar for months, who works for Levo. I bonded with the presenter, a fabulous woman in sales who taught me to think in a new way about offering value and with whom I hope to meet up with again in the future because she’s hilarious. I met students from NYU who are so ambitious, whipsmart, and capable that it’s a bit staggering. And I even met another freelancer doing amazing work with social entrepreneurship who was not just brilliant but wonderfully lovely to talk to – we’re already making plans to do some co-working when we need to get out of our home offices!

I’m really lucky to be working in a time when so many others are freelancing as well (some estimates in Britain put the numbers as 1 in 6 Britons and 1 in 5 Londoners working for themselves), and that there are communities and resources available to us. At times it’s been downright frightening to feel so out of depth this past year, but it’s also been really encouraging to find I’m able to rise to challenges with just a little help, good information, and the realization that I’m not alone in either my struggles or my triumphs.

Levo League is currently expanding in Europe (congratulations!) so hopefully there will be more of these events to look forward to – and more seriously impressive people to get to know!

(PS – nope, no one paid me to write any of this, it’s 100% gushing. Carry on.)

A Saturday Escapade

“And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.”
― John Betjeman

London kicked off March (seriously, March already?!) in fine style with a gorgeous day. We were lazy getting up and about this morning but about lunchtime I turned to Jeff and told him I had a craving for a burger. Never a man to disoblige (or turn down beef), we headed to a perennial favorite BRGR CO and indulged.

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The weather was a balmy 45 degrees, which is practically summer in our corner of Europe. In honor of the temperature, we wore t-shirts and ordered milkshakes. Then, one craving satisfied, we decided to soak in the Vitamin D and the city as well and went on an epic wander starting in Covent Garden and ending in Kensington. Jeff suggested Hyde Park and I wanted to show him where I lived when a student here.

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Hyde Park was a glorious, green expanse.

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Dogs were out everywhere and we crossed paths with many a kid atop their pony.

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London has a bad weather reputation, some of it earned, but let me tell you when it gets it right, London gets it right!

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Buds are shoving their way up and out of the soil and tips of trees, daffodils and crocuses are blooming turbulently, and the birds were singing.  With respect, Game of Thrones, Spring is coming!

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We passed Queen Victoria’s (in my opinion hideous) Neo-Gothic memorial to Prince Albert, and just down the path a ways and across the street, there it was:

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My Kensington stomping grounds! Jeff stood still for a second with this mouth slightly ajar, glanced over his shoulder to where Hyde Park sat a mere 50ft away from the front door, and pronounced me an all my educational cohorts, “Spoiled.” Can’t say he’s wrong, though I will say I much prefer living in our flat south of the river. It might be less rarified than Kensington, but small as it is, it’s about a thousand times more comfortable and a hell of a lot less snobby an area.

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We finished up with an amble up Exhibition Road, which turned into a short foray into the V&A (where I do not spend nearly enough time) before heading home.

Height Differences

“Though she be but little she is fierce.”
- William Shakespeare

The other day Jeff was getting dressed and reached for a shirt of the drying rack, while still not too terribly awake. I know this because I came out from brushing my teeth in the bathroom when I heard him laughing to discover he had tried to put on a shirt of mine instead of his own, which apparently are awfully similar in color and pattern. (Personal note: must do something about this because one of the most odious things a couple can do in public is dress alike.)

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That’s right. His forearm is the length of my entire arm.

Visuals like this often throw me because I don’t feel particularly short or small most of the the time, even though I know I am. Other recent height issues lately include me buying too much contact solution because I’d thought we’d run out when in fact Jeff had stored it on top of a cabinet out of my line of sight, and him walking into the kitchen and burst out laughing because he found me standing on a counter so as to rifle through items on the top shelf of a cupboard that I could not otherwise reach. Shortness, a never ending source of exasperation on my part and amusement on his.

Friday Links

“When I was 16, I started publishing all kinds of things in school magazines.”
- Margaret Atwood

I am waist deep in transcriptions of interviews no one will see for months yet and the sense of intrigue is heady. But it’s also time consuming. Here are your links, kittens, I’ll have a full report of week one later in the weekend!

Pearl clutchers avoid, though you’re missing out on some grade A humor. Look, I’m as excited about the next series of Game of Thrones as anybody, but really, guys!? (It must be said, the last line slays me. And there’s someone for everyone, so let’s all hope they found happiness.)

Puppies! (I have really bad puppy lust again, you guys…)

Is it weird I want to go to this?

Need a last minute Vday gift for a ladyfriend? I heartily endorse these.

The Olympics have arrived, here’s a rundown of the athletes representing their countries alone.

More Olympic goodness, here are some events that no longer make the roster. Two words: ski ballet.

Woody Allen, rape culture, and victim blaming/shaming. Something to ponder when thinking honestly about crime (particularly abusive and sexual) and who we tend to give the benefit of the doubt to in our culture.

Why yes, this is indeed be necessary to my happiness.

Facebook is 10 years old this week - time to rethink your life?

Now that you know someone who (tangentially and not really at all) has some experience working with Fashion (capital F, note), it would be a shocking embarrassment for either of us to mispronounce major labels.

My first week at Red Magazine was great fun. I got to meet Alex Steadman of The Frugality, a site I quite like, and just diagonally across from my work station is Pip McCormac, whose book is coming out this spring – and looks gorgeous! It’s a bit intimidating working with a posse of such impressive people, but I’m enjoying it immensely.