Hello, Working Girl: Mischaela Advani of How to Run in Heels
Meet Mischaela Advani, accomplished professional and the voice and author behind book "How To Run In Heels." Read on to learn more about what it takes to write a book that inspires women toward success, and how this powerhouse juggles all of her work in a breeze!
Q: What is your background in writing and fashion, and how did you ultimately pair the two in your career?
A: I never studied fashion, as I studied Business (Marketing & Finance) in college. I wrote a great deal of business plans, financial projections, and took quite a few entrepreneurship and new venture courses. In my spare time I was Editor of my university’s oldest student lead scholarly publication, because I’ve always had a love of writing and editing. After college I worked in PR and Marketing for a startup, which meant that I did a great deal of writing. I had always written for others and gotten paid well for it, so it only made sense to write something for myself in my own editorial voice.
I’ve always been preoccupied with fashion, and in high school my student yearbook dedicated a two page spread on my sense of style, which was super flattering. I’ve been lucky to be photographed by some of the top street style photographers in the world and appeared in publications ranging from a South Korean street style magazine to The Sartorialist’s blog. In my early twenties I worked as a fashion model, so I got a great insider’s perspective on the fashion business and got to wear some really fantastic creations. Now, as a young professional I sit on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Fashion Foundation, a really lovely organization dedicated to supporting and mentoring budding student fashion designers in Chicago and helping expose them to the greater world.
I would have to say that my editorial voice, and my personal sense of style have become my hallmarks, and I am really looking forward to where these two things will take me in the future.
Q: Describe to us what a day in the life was like while penning your book, "How To Run In Heels"!
A: I have a pretty demanding corporate job, a seat on the Board of a growing non-profit organization, and I just got married in June (to a busy tech entrepreneur, nonetheless), so my day was as follows:
From 8:30 to 5:30 I’m at work, I work for a PR Software company as a Product Manager so I’m constantly working through product designs, writing requirements for software, and doing research to better understand the market and our clients' needs, wants, and wishes. At 6 p.m. my analytical side takes a break and I usually blog or work on writing my book, which can range from research to editing final drafts of chapters. I also take breaks to run errands or have occasional nights off from writing because I have social engagements, runway shows, or other fashion events that I must attend. Networking is so important when you’re working on a book because you should speak about it to as many people as possible. I feel that has helped me firm up my vision and explore ideas that I never would have thought of. It’s great when people get excited for the finished product and when they tell me they can’t wait to read it….you need that positivity to keep going and affirmation that you really are “on to something.”
Q: What is your best advice for meeting personal deadlines and keeping your priorities in order during an otherwise crazy workweek?
A: I feel that working as a Product Manager has really given me a tremendous skill set when it comes to structuring and prioritizing my work. Software development is a fast paced, very iterative process…so I’ve become very good at breaking down big projects into little increments and always focusing on the most important and crucial piece at any given moment.
I always prioritize my core career over everything else because I have an entire team that counts on me, so if I have to put in more work in the evening on that and forego writing…I’m more than happy to. I always do the most important task at any given time, and if I find that I don’t have all of the information that I need to really do something thoroughly…I am apt to switch to the next most important task. I think getting momentum in a project or endeavor sets you up for success in the beginning.
I am a huge advocate of writing down all of my tasks, making to-do lists with sub-to-dos (is that even a thing to anyone else?) and being meticulous but realistic about what I can accomplish in a day. My best advice in one sentence is to always be doing the most important thing, when you can’t do that, do the most crucial thing you can finish in a given time span. If I am in a car going to an event, I always respond to emails or make to-dos for the upcoming week. I try not to let time slip away in idle moments. That way when I get home in the evening I can prioritize family first, and my writing second.
Q: Who do you look to for inspiration in your career?
A: I have quite a few people that I look up to for inspiration, which is why I set out to write “How To Run In Heels,” I wanted to shed light on the women who I find the most inspiring and hopefully inspire and motivate others along the way. I wouldn’t say there is any one person that I look up to, because there is something different and valuable to be learned from the trailblazers, leaders, and innovators of the past and present day. I look up to Estee Lauder because she came to the U.S. as an immigrant entrepreneur and built an empire with a lasting legacy. She inspires me to work hard and stay committed to my long game. I also look up to women like Ada Lovelace, who is considered the godmother of modern computer science for her theories on computational linguistics and machine language in the 1840s. Ada truly lived in the future and was an innovator, and a rule breaker. Her innovation and rule breaking contributed to one of the greatest human discoveries. She inspires me to balk at the norm and follow my heart. One of my biggest inspirations is Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, founder of Gilt Groupe. She came from a more humble background and through hard work and sticking to her vision she was able to start one of the most successful e-commerce businesses ever. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and other top MBA programs incorporate case studies on the business's success. I first met Alexandra at an 85 Broads event and she was incredibly sharp but also very warm, humble, and full of great practical advice.
Q: Where do you envision "How to Run in Heels" and your career a year from now, and what steps do you plan to take to get to that point?
A: I envision building and developing a community of high-achieving and passionate young career women around "How To Run In Heels." I’d like the book to become more than just a collection of stories that lingers on bedside tables or bookshelves. I want it to open up the dialogue between young women about what they can accomplish and how they can get there. I envision the book as a platform for connecting a generation of young ladies around a common experience; the experience of being young, female, and ambitious in a world that sometimes isn’t ready to accept that of young women.
As for my career, I envision myself taking on greater challenges and expanding my skillset to include bigger projects with longer timelines. I’ve grown tremendously over the last year into someone who is very confident in making decisions that impact our clients and our bottom line. I am really looking forward to developing my arsenal of skills as a product manager and really delivering some great features and industry leading tools that wow our clients and prospects alike.
For both visions, the steps to achieve my aims is very simple. I take one day at a time, but plan the future meticulously but in a way that can weather storms and stay flexible. If I set my goals and constantly work to achieve them without fatigue or discouragement, I know that I can realize them.
Secondly, I think it’s important to make time to travel, make connections, and just have fun. One step in my path to success is to travel more because it opens up your thought process and helps you shake your usual mindset and innovate forward. I also plan to get out and network more so that I can start identifying women who really align with the messages in my book and want to be a stakeholder in the community that I am building around my message. Lastly, it’s important to have fun…so many people today spend all of their time chasing success and “the future” that they don’t live and stay in the here and now. Life is short, make waves…but take time to play on the beach too.