A Letter To My Younger Self: Nicky Briger, Marie Claire

A Letter To My Younger Self: Nicky Briger, Marie Claire

With Are Media coming on board as principal sponsor of the B&T Women in Media Awards for the sixth consecutive year, we’re celebrating the company’s unwavering support in a bit of a different way.

‘A Letter to My Younger Self’ is a mini-series featuring three of Are Media’s senior female leaders who have each put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and written an actual letter to … yep, you guessed it … their younger selves.

Each of these fabulous women reflect on what they wish they had been told back then – think life and career advice, lessons to be learnt, challenges and opportunities to be prepared for, et cetera.

We hope these letters will not only provide an insight into how each of them have grown to become the trailblazing females they are today, but also offer advice and guidance for young women starting out in the media industry.

If you missed the first letter by Woman’s Day editor Erin Holohan, you can read it here.

Next up is Nicky Briger, editor of Marie Claire

Dear 20-something Nicky,

Bet you’ve got a thumping hangover and your legs are tired from dancing at an all-night rave, am I right? Well, lucky you. Lap it up, because life eventually becomes weighted by responsibilities. Not that I want to be a downer so early in this letter – growing older has some stellar advantages. You can afford French champagne (not that cheap chardy you’re drinking now) and the occasional holiday in a resort (before COVID-19 renders you homebound, but more on that later). You’ll also enjoy much more fulfilling work and a better salary, although if you decide to stay in publishing, which you will because you love it, you’re clearly not in this for the money. But I’m going off-piste, which is something you’ve always done and that never changes, ever. I’m not sure what younger you I’m writing to, so I’ve chosen the one who’s having so much fun you think life’s one big terrace-house party full of friends, laughter, booze and grunge music. Right now, you’re not really thinking about the future, and that’s okay because you possess three key qualities which I’ll point out to keep you on track.

First, you’re quietly ambitious, but not in a Machiavellian way (you’ll meet those hardcore people throughout your career and loathe them intensely). Second, you’re not afraid to work hard. At 14, you scored your first job operating rides at Luna Park by lying about your age, and you haven’t stopped working since. Third, you’ll happily seize the moment and capitalise on some bizarre opportunities. Good move, except for the time you declined to interview Audrey Hepburn because it was your boyfriend’s birthday. He’s now long gone, as is Audrey, so you missed the chance to bask in the orbit of the world’s most respected star. Idiot.

Because of these aforementioned virtues, you won’t stew in bitterness and regret when you’re older. You’ll play hard, work harder, be curious, ask questions, laugh lots, and all those strategies will serve you well. One warning, though: you’ll sometimes question your abilities and feel like a fraud. Years later, you’ll learn this is a common phenomenon known as “imposter syndrome”, experienced predominantly by women. Gen Xers are riddled with it, but Gen Y and Z have banished it to the bin. New-style feminism teaches women never to apologise or question their worth and to call out bad behaviour when they see it – how good it that? They also demand 12 months’ maternity leave, unlike the measly three months you took because your male boss said getting pregnant was “inconvenient”. Don’t you wish now you’d stood up to that bullshit? Despite everything, thankfully feminism is hardwired into your DNA by your family, which becomes incredibly important when you start editing Marie Claire, a femo brand powered by the belief that together women can make a difference. Right in your wheelhouse.

Even though you’re on the correct path, I do have a few pearls of wisdom mentioned by mentors over the decades. I’ll jot them down in dot form because you’ve loved bullet points since you were a teen:  

  • Don’t ask, don’t get. My former boss, Jackie Frank, lived by that rule and uttered those words constantly. Don’t be afraid to pose questions or demand better; you won’t get what you want if you stay silent.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Right now, you’re a chronic worrier. You need to calm down and stop caring what other people think. You’ll endure many sleepless nights concerned with petty problems that now mean nothing. Save your energy for the big stuff.
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway. Nothing accelerates your career more than stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s a cliché, but I promise it’s true.
  • Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today. This is fairly self-explanatory: don’t dwell on the past and always have your eye on the future. End of.
  • You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Be kind and respectful, always. Most arseholes end up failing (here’s looking at you, Harvey Weinstein).

Before I sign off, just a few random words of advice taken from my own experience (yep, more bullet points): 

  • You’re a bit of a maths nerd and decide to dabble in computer science at uni. After one term, you give up because you don’t see the point. Um, wrong. It’s going to be big. Trust me.
  • Buy a bikini and wear it often. You spend your youth in body-concealing grunge gear. This is your time to shine: get your midriff out cos you’ll never see it again.
  • You’ll hear often that media, publishing, journalism and print are dead. Don’t listen. It’s a thrilling industry full of unexpected twists and turns. At its core, publishing is just about storytelling, no matter the platform. And importantly, you can make a difference with just words, and there’s nothing more satisfying than that.
  • Finally, in 2020 a virus called COVID-19 will consume the world, so the year before buy stocks in Zoom and a medical company called Pfizer, and purchase a cheap property down the coast. You’ll spend a lot of time there.

Good luck and enjoy the ride. Keep doing what you’re doing, be less hard on yourself and stop apologising. In the words of that great Aussie saying, you’ll be right.

Love from the older you (with a better wardrobe, but still in black).

P.S. Apple, Microsoft, Google – beg, borrow and steal to buy shares.

This year’s WIM Awards will take place virtually this Friday (27 August) at 4pm (AEST). Register HERE now to secure your spot!

And, just in case you missed it, we’ve released the WIM Awards shortlist! Check out which fabulous females made the cut HERE.

If you’d like more information about this year’s WIM Awards, head to the website.

Thank you to Are Media and the rest of our incredible sponsors for making the event possible!

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