Jan. 24 2019
You have big career goals, and whether they involve climbing the corporate ladder, making a drastic career change, or starting your own business, there are certain skills that can help you get there faster. LinkedIn Learning provides easy-to-follow video courses that teach you the skills you need to reach your professional goals and stand out to potential employers, sans having to do hours of research (hello, Google rabbit hole). Today, Olivia Fleming, Senior Digital Features Editor at Harper’s BAZAAR is sharing her expertise in storytelling and writing to showcase how she’s used her creativity to launch a successful career at one of the world’s most popular publications. Along with writing captivating stories and profiles for BAZAAR.com, Olivia also runs a jewelry company called Olivia Kane, which offers one-of-a-kind pieces with unique precious and semi-precious gemstones. Below, this New Zealand native talks about why creativity is an essential skill, how she landed her covetable job, and how she gets out of a creative rut. Bonus: This month, LinkedIn Learning is unlocking this course on sparking your creativity so you can learn for free (in under an hour!).
NEWSETTE: LinkedIn Learning is a platform where users can learn skills that help them get ahead in the workplace. Why is creativity an important skill? How did it help you get to where you are today?
OLIVIA: In the overload-of-information age, the ability to connect with people in new, imaginative ways is increasingly important. As BAZAAR.com’s features editor, my job requires me to constantly perceive the world in new ways, to find connections between seemingly unrelated things, to always question assumptions, and find hidden stories in unexpected places. These are creative skills I’ve honed over the last 10 years, and they enable me to consistently surprise and delight our readers with in-depth, fun, and beautiful features.
N: Can you briefly walk us through your journey to working at one of the world’s most coveted media brands? For those looking at similar career paths, what are the top skills you recommend learning?
O: Like most magazine editors, I followed a pretty traditional career path: graduate with a journalism degree, find an internship at a magazine you admire, make yourself indispensable until you get hired. The only thing I did a little differently was move to New York from New Zealand, where I had no job prospects and only knew one other person. I made it a priority to build strong relationships with other incredible women in my industry, who have all helped me, in one way or another, to get to where I am today. Don’t underestimate the power of a good recommendation—the kind that only comes from fostering genuine connections and friendships. Networking of the self-serving kind won’t get you far.
N: As the Digital Features Editor at Harper’s BAZAAR, your creativity is channeled into writing on a daily basis. Can you walk us through your creative process?
O: I don’t have a process per-say; for me it’s more that my brain never switches off. I’m always looking for the next big story, or thinking about how to make something we’re working on even better. It’s a constant process of both problem solving and striving for original ideas. It’s exhausting, but always thrilling.
N: Creativity is mostly associated with writing and art, but it’s also essential for coming up with innovative ideas and solutions. In what ways has being creative helped with your jewelry business? Is it a skill you think all great entrepreneurs possess?
O: My mum has a saying that has stuck with me since I was little: don’t try and fit a square peg into a round hole. When you stop trying to force an idea, or stop trying to control something that’s out of your control and instead look at the problem in a new way—that’s when the magic happens. Being able to let go and concede when something isn’t working is just as important as taking a step back to approach something differently; it’s about going with the flow and seeing where an idea takes you.
N: How do you think women can use creative thinking to grow their personal brands? Has there ever been a resume or pitch where someone wowed you through a creative subject line or cover letter?
O: Knowledge of what you’re talking about and confidence in your skills or idea will always cut through the noise. Forced creativity can come off as cheesy and inauthentic, so rather than trying too hard to stand out—whether it’s on Instagram or with a writing pitch—be yourself and be clear in what you have to offer.
N: When you hit a creativity roadblock, whether you’re trying to write a piece or come up with a new jewelry design, what do you do to get out of it?
O: Honestly, I get up and go to the bathroom. Usually on the walk from my desk to the bathroom door I will have figured out the perfect lead for a story that I’m stuck on, or how to set a finicky stone that seemed impossible a minute ago. Sometimes physically leaving the space that is challenging you, and allowing yourself time away from what you’re trying to figure out, is enough to get some much-needed clarity.
N: Besides your professional endeavors, can you name other ways your creativity comes in handy in other aspects of your life?
O: Anything that I am trying to better myself at takes some sort of creativity to get there: whether it’s figuring out how to lay out my new garden and what plants to choose, planning a two-week trip to Japan with family, cooking (which I’m trying to do more of), or learning how to fight better with my husband. To me, creativity is about tackling challenging things—or approaching problems—in new and innovative ways.
Ready to learn the ins and outs of creativity? Watch this course for free and learn this essential skill today.