If you find yourself staring at your closet each morning dreading having to wear another boring suit to work, you need to meet Amanda Warsavsky. Amanda is a private banker who founded That Pencil Skirt, a blog dedicated to helping working women feel comfortable and confident. Today, Amanda shares with us her advice on staying resilient, founding a fashion blog, and proving yourself in a professional workplace dominated by men.
Name: Amanda Warsavsky
Twitter or Instagram Handle: @thatpencilskirt
Location: New York
Occupation: Founder, That Pencil Skirt
Secretly Obsessed With: French Fries, plane crash investigations, and trading in my Etrade account.
On My Nightstand: Aquafor (I have very dry skin!), the book Team of Teams, my glasses, and a photo of my husband and I from our wedding
Last Thing You Read: Crazy Rich Asians (I totally wish I had something more academic to say, but sometimes a girl just needs a good beach read!)
How did you get started on your career path?: I started working at a big global bank out of college in 2011 in Private Wealth Management. I loved the fast-paced nature of the job and challenging analytics, but always felt like I wasn't utilizing my creativity. Always a lover of fashion, I would stare at my closet filled with boring suits every morning and hated the way I felt after working a 14-hour workday in an uncomfortable pencil skirt. I finally started feeling comfortable expressing myself through my clothing in the office and realized that feeling good in what I wore gave me confidence in my everyday. As I moved up the ranks from analyst to associate, younger girls used to always ask me for work wear advice, so I started writing about it! That Pencil Skirt was founded three years ago as one of the only blogs exclusively dedicated to creating content for working women in professional services. There are 78MM of us in America who should not be ignored! (yes, I'm nerdy and looked that up in the U.S. Census.)
What key elements played into your success?: If I had to sum it up in one word, I would say RESILIENCE. There are so many times that I felt like I was failing, or that it was all over, but I truly believe there isn't anything you can't recover from if you change, adapt, learn, push yourself, and move forward. This has held true through my experiences as a private banker to a blogger. I'll never forget it was my first week on the job as an analyst and I screwed up a deck we were preparing for a client. The senior analyst handed my work to the banker who resumed to shout at me and frantically rip out pages of the book in the elevator on the way up to the client. Now, I definitely admit that I did make mistakes in those materials and absolutely should have checked over my work more closely. That day, I thought I was going to get fired. Six years later, that banker became someone I worked incredibly well -and incredibly close- with. I had to prove myself to him, and I did, but we had way more positive experiences working together than negative. Now, we can both look back and laugh at that first experience together!
With my blog, there are pieces of content I write that I get really excited about that just don't resonate with my followers. It burns! You feel like people don't like your work anymore. However, with content creation, I've learned to not take it personally, use analytics to adapt, and improve, and try again!
What struggles did you face getting to this point?: I'll talk to the blog because that has definitely been a more challenging endeavor than working as a private banker. As a private banker, you have a track. If you do X, Y, and Z right, you get promoted and move forward with your career (easier said than done, I know!) But with the blog, I've had to create my own path and set my own goals. I'll never forget the first week I launched the blog, I had only 10 photos up on my Instagram account and no website (looking back they were pretty embarrassing)! I remember overhearing a bunch of guys on the trading desk pull up my account and make fun of me (mean girls style). At that minute, I said to myself, "you just have to find a way to make this work no matter what it takes." I've probably made some wrong turns, because like I said, there's no clear path. But ultimately after 10 wrong turns (like a really awkward photo shoot), I figured out how to find some right ones. I don't want to underestimate how much those wrong turns hurt!
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?: My dad. He's a lifelong entrepreneur and a big believer that success doesn't come without hard work. He is constantly challenging me and pushing me professionally.
When do you feel most successful?: There are two things. I'm not ashamed to say I feel successful when I make money and I don't understand why there's sometimes a negative stigma associated with that. For me, though, I'll look back on my career and think it was successful if I had impact. Impact can happen at the micro or macro level. When I receive emails or messages from followers that they read my hedge fund article and didn't fully understand what a hedge fund was prior - I feel like I've made impact. I'm still trying to figure out how to push myself and make an impact even more.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?: One of the greatest salespeople to ever work at the bank where I started had a famous line, "the sale starts when the customer says no." This has stuck with me and has served as a great reminder that nothing comes easy.
What advice would you give to women looking to enter your industry/space?: I'll steal a line from Nike - JUST DO IT! When I started my blog, I was definitely not ready. I realize, though, anytime you take a risk you won't feel ready so there's no point in waiting. Whether it's to make that tough call, pitch that new product, or start that business.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? : I'm proud of always staying true to my brand and myself. As a blogger, you could get caught up in this fake reality behind your phone. I try my hardest to only show the "real me" even if it isn't as glamorous as some of the other influencers out there. For example - I hate Matcha!! So I'm not going to go post pictures at that trendy all pink Matcha place, even though it would look pretty fab on my Instagram feed! :)
Want more ways to design a career with purpose? Mavenly + Co. is the best resource to turn to if you’re looking for answers to those big career questions, from coaching programs to podcasts to tools and much more. We're here to help you, girl.