I think it's a good thing to remember that like self-deprecation is actually a message that you're sending to another person and if that person has more power than you or more money than you, or more hiring ability than you, that is not always going to help you in the future. So be, be careful with it.
Dessa: For a lot of us, it can be really difficult to take credit for our work and sidestep imposter syndrome. But producer Julia Furlan explains that you have to be your own hype woman. Because no one else is going to do it for you!
I’m Dessa, the host of Werk It, the podcast -- a compilation of some of the best moments from the live event. This session was part of the Womxnifestos series. They’re distilled wisdom, drawn from experience and spiced with the power of conviction.
Julia Furlan: This is a talk about how to be your own hype woman slash person slash in general human in the world. Um, it's a long road to get here. Uh, this is who I am. I'm Julia Furlan. I, um, am a host and reporter at NPR, um, that is a poorly thought out Twitter handle that I thought out like 10 years ago. “Julia’s TMI” @juliastmi, not “Julie-osteomy”, which is makes no sense. Um, I, you know, I feel really honored to be here. I feel really honored to be like be in this place. Um, I feel like I've got like, like in that chair is like my imposter syndrome and it’s just like sitting there being like, mm, I don't know if you should be there. All these people are listening to you.
And the truth is like, it's just sitting there and it's just always going to be there. And I think that like carrying around the imposter syndrome and just being like “Bitch, go away for a second.” That is, I just want you to know that I also feel like, I feel like really grateful and also, uh, kind of uncomfortable because that's sort of what happens when you like talk up your own work, which is, you know, evidently why we're here. Um, the next thing that we are about to consume as a group right now, I just feel really great. I'm just really glad that it's in the world. Um, I learned about this piece of culture, um, from when I was working on Another Round with Heben and Tracy, one of the most important cultural artifacts of our time. Just a moment. I loved that. That was like a really incredible experience working as a producer on that show. Um, this is “Nicki’s Pickle Juice Speech.” Does anyone know what this is? Like raise your hand if you are familiar. This -- I'm so glad. I'm so glad to have this moment right now, so, okay. Um, I think that I'm just gonna play it and we can just take it in together and then we'll talk about it. Okay. Ready?
[Audio Clip] You have to be a beast. That's the only way they respect you. I came up under Wayne, and Wayne has his way of doing things. When Wayne walks on [explicative] set and says don't talk to me, have my [explicative] music ready, get the [explicative] up outta my face and Imma blow the [explicative] outta his face all day. It's cool.
But every time I, every time I put my foot down and stand up for myself, it's like we've heard about Nicki Minaj. Nicki Minaj shut down a photo shoot. No one wants to work with Nicki Minaj. I'm glad you heard.
Now, when I come to a photo shoot, let it be of quality. You know why? Because I put quality in what I do. I spend time and I spend energy and I spend effort and I spent everything, every fiber of my being to give people quality. So if I turn up to a photo shoot and you have, and you got a $50 clothes budget and some sliced pickles on a [explicative] you want to know what, no, I am going to leave. Is that wrong for wanting more for myself? Wanting people to treat me with respect? But you know what, next time they know better. But had I accepted the pickle juice, I would be drinking pickle juice right now. When I am assertive, I'm a bitch. When a man is assertive, he's a boss. He bossed up, no negative connotation behind bossed up. [End Audio Clip]
Julia Furlan: Right? Can we just, I just want to like applaud Nicki for being in this room with us.
So, okay. Like there's a lot going on there. We have a lot of complicated feelings about Nicki Minaj and that's fine. Um, but in this particular video, this is the kind of thing that I think I, the thing that I want to highlight here is the sort of discomfort that you could feel when you are trying to advocate for yourself and for the things that you need and the things that you want to do your job properly. And, um, you know, I think the part that she gets to at the end, which is that like if Lil Wayne is like, you know, he's, he's bossed up as the, as the hype man in this movie Bossed Up. You know, that, um, the way that people take it when you hype up your own work is not always, um, people don’t always take it very well. They don't expect it or they don't really like it or they don't, um, want it.
And I think that I'm sitting here right now just to tell you that like, that they're just, their discomfort is not your job. You can, um, own your shit and you can advocate for yourself. And sometimes it's uncomfortable because people look at you and they underestimate you. They underestimate you because of your, you know, your gender presentation or your age or your whatever outfit you're wearing or because they've literally never talked to anybody that looks like you or talks like you or makes things like you in their life. And I'm here to tell you that you should fucking do it anyway. Like you have to walk into those rooms and sort of own your shit. It has to be of quality. You know what I mean? Like that the part where she's saying like, I put quality into my work, so let it be of quality. That's vital, too. That's like a very important part of getting to own your work.
But if you have done something, oops, if you have done something and you are proud of it, you have to march into that room with that behind you. And um, if you want to watch the pickle juice speech, um, before you do that so that you can walk into a room and sort of like embody that, I highly recommend it. I think that like, I don't know, you know, when you can like read someone really well and they're like a little bit uncomfortable with you or they're sort of like, you can tell that maybe it's not going over as well as you think it's going to go over -- that moment where you sort of like falter because of somebody else's doubt in you is not helpful to you. Um, you have to be good at what you're doing. Just going to say that again. Don't suck. You just gotta you should be good. Um, but like owning your own pride is really hard and people don't expect it. Um, but you have to do it anyway. It's really uncomfortable, which is our next slide.
People don't expect marginalized folks of all kind to be bold. Um, they have preconceived notions about what you're going to bring to the table. They think that you are going to speak for your entire group, whatever that group is. If it is, you know, like, you know, it could be a group of, it could be like your age group or your race or your ethnicity or your gender presentation. Like it could be any group and people just look at you and that is all they see. And they don't expect you to embody the fullness of your identity as a person who is like good at their job and also, uh, believes in themselves. Sometimes they don't expect you to believe in yourself. And I think that you should do it anyway. It is fucking awful when somebody underestimates you and you look at them in the face and you're like, listen, um, I'm not going to take this.
Like I'm not going to take your underestimation of me, but you can do it. And I think that it is, um, it just doesn't serve us as a, as like people who are underestimated. It doesn't serve you to take in that sort of like refraction of your identity. You have to be able to sort of look at people in the face and present your work and go for it anyway. And there's a reason and I think the reason is the next one. Um, yeah. So there's two, three things on this slide. They may not take it well. you need to do it anyway. A third thing. You really need to do it anyway. That's the third thing. Evergreen question. Which bag do men use to carry the audacity? It is a great tweet. I love that tweet.
Um, I am going to let you in on a little secret. So what happened to me was I was a, like scrappy, yes. Uh, you know, intern person. And then I was, uh, so, you know, like there's like a picture of me like rollerblading with my kit. I don't know. Uh, I think I was going to interview people who ice cream trucks. I can't remember. I was just like down to do whatever it was that needed to be done, regardless of what it was. Um, and then I did that for a long time. Um, I like worked a lot. I did not get paid at first, uh, very much at all. I like could not fathom getting paid really like a human living wage. I was just ike, Oh my God, I'm so excited.
Um, and I, you know, babysat and I, I like supplemented my income in ways that were, um, you know, not, not the thing that I necessarily want him to be doing. Um, but I worked like really, really hard and eventually I got to this place where I was sort of in. So I was, I worked at WYNC and then I went to Buzzfeed News and eventually I sort of like worked my self up to a place where I was like in these rooms where like it was like me and a bunch of other people and it was a long table and there were lots of people making decisions and I have some fucking news for you: There are a lot of white cis men who are fucking idiots who are ending up in these rooms and they are doing this shit and they're just doing it in front of you.
Like this deal is not properly written out. There are, I mean I'm not speaking of the organizations that I've worked at previously specifically in any way please don't do that. But like in general, you get into these rooms and there, there are like deals being made and money exchanging hands and people are like so called like creating things and they are fucking terrible at it. And it is so annoying as, I'm sorry, I'm like getting into like the high register cause I'm getting worked up but like it happens, they just carry their bag of audacity into those rooms and they plop it down on the seat and they're just like, you know, in these rooms getting paid three, four times what we have gotten paid to do bad work.
And I am here to tell you, Oh, we're going to do an exercise now: I want you to like picture the most like regular degular dude in the world. Um, you'll just like middle of the road person has not, I never had like a strong opinion and that you've like, I just want you to think of that guy and think of how like gorgeously oblivious he is of his own privilege. You know, like imagine him, when you were in these moments where you're like, what am I gonna do? You get your bag of audacity and you, I mean it doesn't always work and it's not always gonna work for you and people don't always want to hear you when you do it, but I, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about you have to think of that guy and then picture him asking for like $10,000 more than you would or twice what you would earn and that is where you need to come from. Because it is fucking happening and it is infuriating. I was so mad. I was so mad when I got into these rooms and I was like this guy, are you kidding me?
Do you know how many likes fucking badass people I know who are just like who have been underestimated, who have every t dotted, crossed, every T crossed, every I dotted on their, on their entire resume going back years and years and they are not in those rooms. They are earning much less because they've been sort of underestimated, underpaid, under titled all of that. When I got there I was really, I was really astounded. Um, so I just want you to know that there are people who are mediocre, who are getting paid more to do a bad job. So like do it carry your little bag of audacity. It's like audacity fairy dust. Um, I wonder if like, can you raise your hand? Have you ever watched a cis guy, a white guy, like walk in and just be fucking bold in a way that you have not been. Everyone's hands! Oh my God, I'm screeching.
It is like unbelievable. And I — like that feeling where you're just like, you just walked in and did it. That is the thing that I want you to remember when you are getting like watching your pickle juice speech before you're walking into that room, your work has to be good. I keep reminding you of that. Don't do bad work. Uh, you have to, your audacity has to come from somewhere. But like, just think about that. You want to be in a place where you can own that. And, um, if you are not asking for this money or this, whatever it is, a mediocre cis white guy will. So just think about that too. Cause when I finally got on the other side of the resume and I got on the other side of the like hiring process and I saw what actually was going on in terms of like, who was asking for a lot of money, who was like playing up their resume and like totally was not really worth it.
I was really shocked at how that broke down. I'm sure you guys are really shocked by how that goes. I get, it's just like you can do it and if it doesn't feel like you should or it doesn't feel like you could like try just try it anyway. It's, um, why not, you know? Um, here is a list of things that I think are, um, I feel like these are things that I did for a long time in my career that were not actually very helpful to me. Um, so I'm going to just read them out and talk them out a little bit.
So self-deprecation is something that I like learned in the 90s. I guess I just don't, I like thought it was cool or whatever. I watched too much friends. I don't know. Like, I thought that self-deprecation was a sort of, um, I mean it is in, in some ways it's a, it's a pressure valve release.
It says to people like, I didn't, I don't actually mean this, you know, but when you're doing it too much or when you hear yourself sort of like relying on it a lot, I want you to like remember this moment and think, Oh, I don't know. Because the thing about self-deprecation is that if somebody doesn't know you well enough, they're just going to think you're being honest. Like they're not gonna get it. Um, and you should not expect them to get it. If you tell somebody, Oh, I don't know. I mean, it's okay. I don't know. I literally have done that seven times today. I, it's, it's hard to stop doing it, but, um, I think it's a good thing to remember that like self-deprecation is actually a message that you're sending to another person and if that person has more power than you or more money than you, or more hiring ability than you, that is not always going to help you in the future. So be, be careful with it.
Saying yes to literally anything is a very bad idea. Uh, it's sometimes fun. It's sometimes a good way to, um, move up in various organizations. It is sometimes necessary to do that for your job. Um, especially as if you're a producer. There's like a lot of saying yes, that happens. Like there's a lot of like production that is in fact like managing up, down, sideways every, every possible way. But if you find yourself saying yes to literally everything, I mean of course like you were here for Megan's wonderful talk, like saying yes to literally everything is, is be careful of it. All of these things, like there's an amount that you might be able to do it and that you should do it. Maybe, I don't know, but like be careful when you're, when you're doing it, I want you to like have that thing in your head that says like, I, I don't know. I don't know if this is right. I don't know if this feels right. That intuition that you have is something that you should listen to because even if it's the right thing for that job, it could lead to like very severe resentment and sadness and, and like self betrayal. So I would say like, be careful when you're betraying yourself. Don't, don't do it. It's not a great idea.
Um, I also find that pretending that, something that was really hard was actually super simple, is a really bad idea. Like the people that walk into rooms and are like, Oh, we'll just like fart out a little podcast, it'll be great. The ridiculousness of that. You know, they're, I was like, Oh my God, investigative, you know, three part series on blah, blah, blah. And you're like, what the fuck are you talking about? By yourself. With no resources.
Like, it doesn't serve you and it doesn't serve all of the other people in this room. It doesn't serve them. If you pretend that something that was really, really hard was actually super simple, um, I would recommend having a really clear line about like what was hard, how, what was hard, um, not, not as sort of like complaining thing. Uh, but something where you're actually able to articulate the difficulty of the task and the complexity of the task while also sort of just like leaving it there and owning that. That is a really good idea.
Um, deadlines that are ridiculous. Uh, it happened a lot at a Buzzfeed. I'm fine saying this, that, that like people who don't understand audio, people who don't understand what we do have trouble understanding how hard it is to do, like how long it takes to edit, how long it takes to turn something around, how long it takes to make something really good.
And we did it a lot on like a really, really tight deadline and it was hard and it wasn't always perfect. But I think that like when there is a deadline that you're like this emoji. Hmm. Or the monocle one. I liked that one, too. If either of those emojis are the way that you feel in your soul when that happens, when a deadline arrives, like articulate that at the beginning. Um, I know it's hard and it's not always like possible, but try and try and be aware of that.
Um, unearned trust. Trust is something that you should be like pretty careful with when it comes from an organizational standpoint. But well, I would basically say that like if somebody is like, you know, trust me, it'll be fine, or trust me, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, trust should be earned. It is okay to have somebody earn your trust. It is, it is okay to, to make that sort of boundary. And this, the asterisk here is trust people, not institutions.
Journalism is a very complicated place. Podcasting is a very complicated place. There are a lot of half lives that we're all gonna go through as we go through our career. I know I was saying this before, but basically you should trust people specifically, not institutions. Um, let's see.
Anybody who's trying to rush you to a major decision, it's okay to say like, no, or give me a minute or give me 24 hours or give me 48 hours. It is important that you stand for that boundary. Rushing to a decision is a bad idea.
And don't say yes when everything in your entire soul screams no. Don't, don't do that. It's mean to you like self betrayal is still betrayal and it will get you to a really sad, dark place. So I highly recommend if something, if everything in your soul is saying no, articulating no, even if it means you're gonna lose money, lose the job, lose whatever it is within your power, depending on your financial situation and everything that like rests on that don't say yes when everything says no, don't do that. It's really bad for you.
Um, and so as excessive apologizing something that I used to do, I probably still do a fair amount. It's similar to self-deprecation. Um, you know, it's, it's hard when you feel like you should be sorry for things that you are not sorry for. But guess what happens when you say that you're sorry for something that nobody like, that you don't need to be sorry for people. Just think that you should be sorry anyway. And it's really bad. It's really, it's a bad look. It's a bad, uh, representation of your work. Um, and it doesn't help you. It doesn't, it doesn't help anybody else perceive you with more power. Um, and that's why you're here.
So can we do Q+A, you can only ask a question if you hype something that you make or that you are or that you do before you do it because nobody else is going to do that for you. So do it right.
Audience member: Hi.I am hyped about my podcast, Audultish.
Julia Furlan: Adultish, everybody! Yes!
Audience member: So what if you have an opportunity to do something and someone who works above you tells you to your face, “I think I'm more qualified than you do this, which is why I think I should do it. But you're, you're slated to be on it.” And you're like,”Why? What makes me unqualified?” And then they give their reasons why, is that behavior….?
Julia Furlan: That's really fucked up. Okay. I don't like that. I don't like that at all. I think that that sounds like the person that is above you is like not managing properly and not sort of like acting in good faith. Um, I would be like really skeptical of that person. It doesn't seem like a good situation. Um, why, why do they think that they're more qualified? Like, what's the deal?
Audience member: Um, years of experience.
Julia Furlan: Yeah. That can be, I mean like, I don't know. I like, I legitimately don't know, but somebody who tells you to your face that I should have your job or like I should be able to do that thing is not advocating for you. If they are suppose -- this is your manager? -- we don't need to know...Anyway. Somebody's job is to advocate for you. They should not be taking away your work.
Audience member: Thank you.
Julia Furlan: Fuck it. Anyone? One more?
Audience member: Hi. I'm really proud of my podcast and we just launched the first episode last week. It's called “HealYeah!”
Julia Furlan: Say it again.
Audience member: Heal. Yeah. Like hell yeah, “heal yeah!”. Um, after my, it's my university's podcast.
Julia Furlan: Nice.
Audience member: But I was wondering if you had any advice or like a daily habit you could implement to practice owning your space?
Julia Furlan: Hmm. I mean, I think that all, like all of the things on this slide, if you sort of like listen to yourself and it, like if you weed, it's like a weed wacker. You have to sort of like attack them individually. Um, I find that asking myself for more time or like asking for more time is a really good way for me to like make space to check in on things. Um, not responding to emails right away. Not, um, like using time as a power move is a very helpful thing that I've found that allows me to like check in with myself and make sure that I'm acting in my own best interest. Yeah. That's my, yeah. One more. I could do this all fucking day. I'm like my dream. Whatcha hypein’?
Audience member: Uh, I co-host and produce a podcast called “Battle Tactics for Your Sexist Workplace.” My question is getting...what happens when you are applying for jobs? So, um, it turns out that men will apply for jobs if they only meet 25% of the qualifications, women apply if they meet 90% or more. Uh, so I'm curious how you go about, uh, hyping the work that you've done when you were in the resume process, when you're just a piece of paper and a name.
Julia Furlan: I mean, I think that you're never just a piece of paper and a name. You are your like social media feed. You are the people that you know, you are the people that you can network with beforehand. I feel like understanding the, like the more research that you do on the places that you're ending up applying to, the more you can use that to sort of inform your, your process. And I find that like it's the biggest thing missing in job applications is when people have done no research on the place that they're applying to. They haven't listened to the things that the thing makes. They have no idea what you do. They have no idea. So like if you are able to, I mean it should be a require -- if you are applying for a job, you're asking for somebody to like take their time to consider you.
And if they're holding up their part of the bargain, which they don't always do, which is fucked up, but like the, they should, you should respect their time by doing, being like utterly prepared, like to the teeth. Do your research, know everything that you've got. And also like think about that 25% statistic, right? Like, a cis guy is going to apply and is going to apply. If he has 25% of the qualifications, 25%, that's a quarter of the things that he needs to know that he doesn't know. So like think about that statistic, do your research and be, um, I think be, be proactive. I think that you're never exactly just like a piece of paper in a pile. If you have done your research, if you're interacting on social media, if you're sending an email to somebody who is like maybe at a different level in the company, not, not the person that you would be interviewing with, but somebody who could do an informational interview with you.
Um, I think, don't use the term “pick somebody's brain.” It's really annoying. Just side note, just zombies pick brains. Just, just say that you want to talk and get coffee or whatever. Just don't say pick your brain. It's so weird. Um, side note. Um, yeah, I think that that's like, that's like a good way to go about it. Come to these kinds of things, talk to people in the real world, uh, like soft spaces where you are in the same room as these people exist, and, and if you can be in them with them, that that's a good idea. Yeah. I would say now we wrap it up. Wait. Oh, I have one slide. Wait, hang on. We'll, Oh shit. Okay. Are you ready?
Thank you all for being here. Thank you so much. Come up and talk to me later.
Dessa: That was Julia Furlan, speaking at the 2019 Werk It Festival. Both the festival and the podcast are produced by WNYC Studios and are made possible by major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with additional support from the Annenberg Foundation. Event sponsors include Luminary, Spotify, Spreaker, Acast, Himalaya, and the Women’s Foundation of California.