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What Success Looks Like: A 10-Part Interview Series

What Success Looks Like: An Interview Series
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Two years ago, I was a 16-year-old with a big mouth and an even bigger imagination. I’d basically coasted through school (and life in general) just doing what made me happy when it suited me. I had so much potential but never acted on it; thankfully, something changed.

Every person in my junior class in high school was required to create a resume before summer break—we all thought it was a waste of time because, like most juniors, we didn’t realize the next year would fly by in the blink of an eye. But when I sat down to write the resume I had a realization: I wasn’t in any clubs, I didn’t have many awards, I was nowhere close to athletic, and I basically came to the disastrous conclusion that I was very, very ordinary.

I began to have what I can best call an identity crisis as I played an unrealistic scenario (over and over again) of never getting into college because I didn’t have anything to set myself apart. I sat in my bed and complained to my uninterested dad who finally told me that if I was so worried about not being good enough I should just do something about it. (Duh, Anna!) Instantly, something clicked and my panic fueled something very rewarding: An idea.

The Lightbulb Moment

My anxiety was really rooted in the fear of being unsuccessful. I decided that because I was so consumed with the idea of success—and worried about the lack thereof—I should just learn from women who had already gone through college, entered the workforce, and clawed their way to the top (with perfectly manicured nails, of course).

But I didn’t have a clue how to organize an interview with these women—which I now know requires tons of emailing and minor internet stalking—or come up with questions that would get meaningful answers I could use. Most importantly, I had no idea where to find the influential women to interview — so I set out to meet with magazines and newspapers in Little Rock, AR for guidance.

I was blown away at how willing everyone I had contacted was to help out an aspiring writer. Names of great women began to pour in—and just like that, I saw my dream coming to life.

I prepared for my upcoming interviews by listening to an amazing podcast called OnBeing to get the feel for what good questions really were and how to keep an interview flowing like a conversation. Krista Tippett, the interviewer, always starts her interviews out with one question, no matter who she’s interviewing or what they’re discussing. I found that concept really interesting and decided to incorporate that into my own interviews.

So at the beginning of every interview, I decided I would ask each woman to describe themselves in one word. (As you’ll find out later in the interviews themselves, that one simple word spurred great conversation and really helped me get to know each woman’s individual self-image and personality.)

Finally, after months of preparation (which also included practicing in my bathroom mirror for hours upon hours), I was on my way to the first interview feeling excited for the journey ahead. But no amount of one-sided conversation could prepare me for the real deal; after all, you never know what something’s going to be like until you try.

The Takeaway

The summer of 2015 was filled with road trips, very good food, and exploring the lives of fierce, driven women. Through this experience, my whole idea of success and how to achieve it changed; I learned success isn’t just about having the fanciest car or the biggest house; it’s about doing what makes you happy and reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself.

When everything was all said and done, it was a bittersweet ending to an unforgettable summer. I was so happy to be out of my car (which I never imagined it’d get tired of) and back in my big bed. But the actual work (aka transcription) was just getting started.

Turning these interviews into articles during my internship with Earn Spend Live has been extremely rewarding as well because I’m constantly picking up on something I didn’t see before or fully understanding advice I was given that I couldn’t process back then. I hope I was able to capture the spirit and voice of each unique woman and you fall in love with their fiery spirits and determined personalities.

Each article is meant to be a representation of a successful woman’s life and specifically how she became successful. The focus of the interviews was very organic and flowed differently based on which person I was talking to and the setting that we were in.

As you’re reading these interviews, which will be published weekly, I hope you’re able to take something away from each, just as I have. I want you to see that success comes in many different shapes and sizes—and when it comes down to it, personal success and love are what fuels happiness.

Follow Anna on Instagram: @annamariedepoyster

Last modified on January 5th, 2017

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