The 10 Best Pieces of Life Advice From the Women I Surround Myself With

By Rosie Yakob

  1. On asking for a raise/negotiation: Say the highest number you can say without laughing out loud. Ladies, it’s no secret we are vastly underpaid. There are many reasons this is the case, and it’s not something we can fix on our own. But one thing we can do? Be better negotiators. Thank you, Cindy Gallop, for helping to change the ratio by fighting for all of us, and by arming women with the know-how to demand what they’re worth.
  2. On traveling: Always pack patience and a sense of humor. My Aunt Tami, who lives part-time in Thailand, taught my then fiancé and I this when we were only one month into what turned out to be a 4-years-and-counting trip. This mantra comes in handy when you find yourself at the train station only to realize you actually bought bus tickets for a bus that departs in 11 minutes from a different station that is exactly 10 minutes away. Thank you, Tami Andrews, for giving me my travel mantra.
  3. On food: Eat less red meat. My littlest sister came back from a semester abroad, having studied food science & nutrition in Italy, with plenty of tips about how to be healthier. As she was my little sister, I told her to zip it. I kid, I kid. I simply asked her to give me one piece of advice instead of recapping her entire semester. My middle sister has been a vegetarian for years, and while I’m not willing to go that far [Oh how I love thee, filet mignon!), I concede that all signs point towards the health & environmental benefits of eating less red meat. Thank you Marion Siman & Lillian Keil, for sharing your empathy and smarts with your big sister.
  4. On modesty: Leave a little something to the imagination. My grandmother has commented on what I choose to wear more times than I can count — and her critiques are mainly about the revealing nature of some of my tops. I could make excuses, but the older I get, the more I realize that even when it comes to feeling sexy, a little can go a long way. Thank you, Big Moms, for reminding me that beauty is not all about revealing everything.
  5. On haters: Shake it off. I think this is one where we can all agree Taylor Swift got it right. It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt, or that it won’t make you sad. But the haters have a problem with themselves, and often their problem with you is rooted in jealousy. Thank you, T Swift, for the upbeat song I can play to take my mind off the haters out there.
  6. On nudity: Love yourself, and don’t be afraid of getting naked. Because as much as it’s good to be modest, sometimes you need to get naked with your girls and sing The Little Mermaid at the top of your lungs while skinny dipping in the oceans of Puerto Rico. Thank you, Kweens, for giving me the comfort and confidence to celebrate my body.
  7. On relationships: Be sure to have lots of fun together. My grandmother Rosie, who I’m named after, gave me this advice before I got married. [Her first piece of advice, however, was “When you go to the store to get something, and your husband gives you money, don’t bother returning the change. He won’t know how much things cost anyway…”] Of course it’s about love, but you can cultivate love through experiences, by giving yourself time to play. Thank you, Rosie, for reminding me that it’s not just about love, but that fun plays an equally important role when it comes to relationships.
  8. On work: Make the people who work for you look damn good, and support them even when they don’t. Plenty of people will tell you the best way to win at work is by getting there early and staying there late. But work is more akin to improv. You succeed by building up your team, by setting them up for success, and by celebrating them and their contributions — even when they mess up. Thank you, Orli LeWinter & Sarah Hofstetter, for teaching me one of the most valuable lessons in business.
  9. On the future: Stay positive, stay woke. “The worst thing that can happen in a democracy–as well as in an individual’s life–is to become cynical about the future and lose hope: that is the end, and we cannot let that happen.” Thank you, Hillary Clinton, for reminding me that complacency and cynicism are not options.
  10. On attitude: Only you can make yourself happy. Growing up, my mom was quick to point out, often in less-than-ideal circumstances, that we were responsible for our own happiness. There will always be rough days, and there will be plenty that’s beyond your control. Your attitude, however, is not. Thanks, mom, for repeating this so often that it’s now second nature for me to do the same. And you know, for embodying your own advice, too.

Rosie Yakob is the co-founder of Genius/Steals, a nomadic creative consultancy. She and her partner Faris have been living on the road/runway for four years and counting. They write, speak and consult for agencies and brands, all over the world. Their newsletter Strands of (Stolen) Genius was named one of 7 emails every creatively minded person should subscribe to. More into the travel photos? Follow Rosie’s stories on Instagram instead.