What I gained after more than a decade in beauty PR that can’t be found in a jar or tube.
From the time I started working in the beauty industry, I have seen a popular trend come full circle. Anti-aging was THE industry buzzword. Now, it is becoming taboo as times call for embracing your age and your uniqueness, flaws and all. As of August 2017, Allure, the beauty bible, even announced that it would be phasing out the term, in favor of celebrating beauty at any age.
Rejecting unattainable ideals of physical beauty is a notion I fully support, but a sort of Benjamin Button effect seems to have taken hold on me after 12 years of working full time … and I am not complaining. Don’t get me wrong, the wrinkles and fine lines are appearing and I feel a few drinks a lot more the next morning than ever before. It is my attitude, outlook and habits which have gained a youthfulness I thought had gone by the wayside with my 20s.
If you are wondering where the fountain of youth can be found, it is not Ponce DeLeon who slid into my DMs, but my younger coworkers. I am very fortunate to be part of a tight-knit working group of 20-somethings who despite snickering at my clueless questions, have helped restore my youthful outlook. The result is that while some may find my use of the latest lingo to be inappropriate, my younger coworkers have rubbed off on me in several other amazing ways both personally and professionally.
Keeping the target in mind or in the mind of the target?
These days, millennials, and more specifically those in their 20s, are a coveted group targeted by marketers who ask the question: how do I connect with this group? By spending time with coworkers in that cohort, I can better answer that question and confidently speak to their habits, motivators and mindsets, which, in turn, helps inform the ideas I put forth for clients to appeal to this generation.
On trend and on social
You are unlikely to see me in a crop top … EVER, but despite not following all of the latest trends myself, I feel very clued in to which brands, styles, food and music are emerging and peaking. This has helped me stay relevant when interacting and making recommendations for both clients and media contacts who also seem to be getting younger by the week.
I was a Facebook early-adopter, joining in the network’s nascent days, but that’s about as close to the (cutting) edge as I’d gotten with newer social media. When work conversations would inevitably lead to the funny new Snapchat filter or most-shared Instagram meme, I would experience more than a little FOMO. To keep up, I joined both platforms and strive to constantly refresh my feed. This has helped me to step into the shoes of and better understand the influencers we engage for our clients and to identify the up and coming trends and how these networks can be best utilized for our clients.
Snacking on content
Even though we aren’t that far apart in age, I feel like my mindset was significantly different from the generation just younger than me. They consume content on numerous devices simultaneously, gravitating toward visual and short, snackable content and now, so do I. Funny, quirky and sensory is king and anything too branded or self-serving is the jester. All of this I now understand and keep at the forefront of my mind when working to create branded content for millennials.
Living the life(style)
From SoulCycle to Chopt to Playa Bowls, I have been brought along for the ride with my coworkers, experiencing some of their favorite brands and activities outside of work time. In turn, these have become some of the brands I am most loyal to and if I hadn’t been open to trying and seeing what all of the millennial buzz was about, I may never have experienced them in the first place. Spending time where the Gen Yers are outside of work, as well, has also helped to perpetuate my halo (or possibly delusion) of youth.
The secret to anti-aging, it turns out, is perspective. Whether it is younger coworkers who impart their youthful energy, older colleagues who share their experience and wisdom or contemporaries of other backgrounds who provide cultural context, surrounding yourself with a group of people who are different from yourself enriches your life and shapes you in ways that you may not even realize. Especially when it comes to younger employees, it may be easy to disregard their opinions and suggestions, but by hearing them out and adopting their ideas, we all may feel a little younger … and produce better work.