Antonella Broglia: “I’ve Never Had a Burnout in My Life”

“I work and sleep in the same place, professional-public-private is all the same for me, no distinction”

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

I’ve interviewed Antonella in December 2016 following the Thrive Questionnaire format in order to discover the way she works and lives.

Diana Piemari Cereda: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

Antonella Broglia: Even before to get out of bed I take my phone in my hands because my phone is also my alarm clock, so inevitably I am still in bed, I take my phone to switch off the alarm. While I have my phone in my hands I immediately check in the superior bar if there are emails. I start checking the emails because I love to do that, I don’t feel stressed, I don’t feel a slave, anything like that, it’s just the norm for me. I work with people all around the world, I work with people in California and I know they’ll be writing while I am sleeping. Then I put the mobile phone down I come down from the bed and start to have my breakfast, I make myself a sandwich of brown bread and honey, and that’s it, I love it all this routine.

DPC: What gives you energy?

AB: Many things, essentially psychological things. To think about the man I love gives me a lot of energy, this is the beautiful kind of things that give me energy. I have a natural energy, I am so lucky because I was born like this, I am never tired, I don’t drink because alcohol is something I am allergic to, and I don’t smoke and I eat I think well. This makes me feel very healthy and always ready for work. I feel naturally energetic. Then there is this thing that makes me feel also more energetic, like having a new project in hands. I work in the theaters, that makes me very happy when I’ve plays to do, or rehearsals, I love that! It’s something that makes me feel expended. In general, I am always energetic, but not because I do something special, it is just who I am, a natural thing, a DNA sort of thing.

DPC: What’s your secret life hack?

AB: In my case, this is the life hack, my place, the total reduction of the element that surrounds me, I reduced them to the minimum in order to life in 35 square meters. I moved in August after many years in traditional and big apartments, taking away many things. This solution allows me to gain a lot of time, money probably, but especially time, and logistic, so that there is not much to dedicate for and I can spend my time on things that matter. Among this thing I am actually living in the street, because I leave this window that is like a shop window right on the street almost always open. I’ve changed completely my way to relate with reality and other people, they can see me from the outside and stop and talk to me, and we imagine, think and create. I work and sleep in the same place, professional-public-private is all the same for me, no distinction. I don’t know if this is a hack but for sure living in a small place is a hack. I donated a lot of clothes, one thousand DVDs, six hundred CDs and I am still donating because I think focusing on no material things is much more interesting.

DPC: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?

AB: Yes, my phone sleeps with me, it’s always with me and I watch it every second, constantly for emails because it’s how I work. My relationship with my phone is total interdependence and I don’t feel bad for it. I understand that I have lost attention, depth, and the capability to concentrate for sure, I know that my phone is the responsible. I don’t think that there is a way back. Maybe if we live in the country we can go back and our activities are merely creative, just writing a book isolated, for example, the phone could be used just half an hour a day, or during weekends. But for me no, I accept it, it’s part of the new way we live and I’ve chosen to live this way. I am constantly looking for things, creating ideas maps, I could not do these things in isolation.

My relationship with my phone is love 100%. When it doesn’t work it’s a real drama, and I have no shame about it.

DPC: How do you deal with email?

AB: I like to reply to the emails immediately and once. This is the only way for me not to accumulate and feel killed by emails. I take care immediately and never spend more than once, I don’t keep email for weekends or certain email that apparently are less important for later, no there is no later. This is how I am always updated. People don’t understand, they always ask me “how could you respond so fast?” but it’s a habit, maybe this is also a life hack

DPC: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?

AB: Daydreaming. My bed is very comfortable. I can take this not fully sleeping kind of nap in 15 minutes when you are conscious of reality but at the same time, you can relax. That is a very productive moment because you see ideas in a better way. 15 minutes is the perfect time, I feel very good. If I find 15 minutes and I am outside maybe I go into a bar and I take a tea and watch my emails like in any other moment.

DPC: When was the last time you felt burned out?

AB: I have never had a burnout, in the real sense of feeling empty, this never happen to me, but in November I felt very tired of the repetition of things. It was not indeed a matter of burning all the energies, or feeling too tired, not this way. The feeling of doing the same thing again and again for the last six of seven years, in that moment, was killing me. It was year after year after year, and then comes the “no, I don’t want to do this anymore”. it was not a burnout but a revelation. I was feeling that if I was going to do another of those things I would die for it. Repetition kills me. When you realize that there is no more space for it, it’s very liberating.

DPC: Share a quote that gives you strength when times are tough.

AB: The quote is the quote that I created from myself it’s my own quote and it says:

“Dear Antonella, you’ve come through incredible challenges in your life, big ones, really big ones, personal and professional, so you’ll come out from this too.”

Antonella Broglia lives in Madrid, where she curates TEDx events. She is Italian graduated in Law at Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia. She has been CEO of the two very important advertising agencies, Ogilvy & Mather in Rome and Saatchi & Saatchi in Spain. She is a public speaker on the stage and in the classroom, working in theaters, playing and writing. Since 2011 she is also an ambassador for the non-profit international organization Ashoka.