How to Stay Creative at a Corporate Job
I’m constantly inspired by the amazing women I surround myself with; both in my professional and personal life. So today, I wanted to highlight one of those women: my dear best friend Linette. I’m sure many of you have seen her before on the blog and my Instagram, and although she lives across the country (all the way in NYC!), I feel that we are closer now more than ever.
Like many of you, Linette works in a corporate environment. She is the Director of Global Social Media for Kiehl’s (which is under L’Oreal) and when she was in town a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her job and how she maintains her creativity in a corporate job. Enjoy!
1. How did you and Chriselle meet?
Chriselle and I met at our hometown church (CKBC!) in the bay area. We were in middle school, and she had just moved to California from Korea. She introduced herself after service one day by shyly handing me and my sister Annie a business card. It read “SugaQT” with a blown out photo of her little face (hand pose and all), and it included her home number or beeper number (I can’t remember).
2. How did you get your start at L’Oreal?
About 8 years ago, the stars aligned and I met Michelle Phan. She was at Evan’s birthday party (my then boyfriend, now super awesome husband) and I remember Chris whispering to me “that girl is a YouTube star.” I had no clue what that meant at the time but it was clear that she had always been ahead of the game. I moved to New York shortly after meeting Michelle and during one of her Lancôme meet and greets in Times Square, she told me she had a secret project coming up. She asked if I might be interested in working in beauty. I told her it would be a dream come true.
3. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned working in a corporate environment?
“Your network is your net worth.”
Building and nurturing relationships take time and effort, but it’s one of the most important set of assets you can have. Even if you are a diligent worker or the brightest talent, if no one is validating your skillset, it will be difficult to ‘climb the ladder’. You need someone to push you up and shine some light on you. But this dynamic goes both ways- if a mentor is willing to endorse you, figure out a way to make the relationship mutually beneficial. Ask what you can help with and ALWAYS express your sincere gratitude.
4. How do you manage to stay creative at work and outside of work?
At work, I always try to:
1. Stay curious.
2. Listen to others.
3. Ask questions.
Outside of work, I do my best to learn new things. Almost 2 years ago, I started a personal blog, dearlinette.com. I wanted to know what it took to be a content creator (since I work with them in a business capacity) so I could have a more 360 view on how the social space operates. I knew I needed a niche topic so I decided to dedicate the blog to my fellow career women, by asking mentors and friends to write an advice letter to their younger self.
Aside from that, I’m also helping my husband with his first feature film, Snakehead. Having the opportunity to immerse myself in a completely different structure and environment like a movie set is invigorating and really gets my creative juices going.
5. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“Be kind to everyone.” A good manager can manage up, down, and all around.
And bonus advice (this is metaphorical of course)
“Move forward until physically restrained.” Do whatever it takes (in the most respectful way)!
6. Current favorite podcasts or life tips?
Open Account / SuChin Pak
Ted Talks / NPR Radio
This American Life / NPR Radio
Let your husband confiscate your phone when you come home for dinner. Unplug. Explore your city on the weekends and be in the moment. Spend time with people who inspire you.
7. Creative outlet tips for the creative corporate gal?
Surround yourself with people who have different careers or hobbies from you. One of my dear friends, Pili Restrepo is a jewelry designer and I love exchanging business ideas and hearing about what inspires her even though we’re in completely different fields.
8. Your top 5 go-to, no fail Kiehl’s beauty products?
9. What’s something no one tells you about when you sign up for the corporate gig?
Speak up – advocate for yourself. I made the assumption early on that if I kept my head down and worked hard, eventually, it would pay off. Not entirely true. Even in a corporate environment where you interact with lots of people and cross-functional teams – if you don’t ask for what you want out of your career, chances are no one will know. Take the time to let your manager and HR person know what your expectations are and ask for accountability.
10. Current Favorite Quote?
“To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a special heart that listens.” — Unknown Author