With an impressive career history including Creative Director for the likes of Saatchi & Saatchi, last year Jo Wallace started ‘Good Girls Eat Dinner’, a dining event that invites four inspirational women from the creative industry, from stunt women to social gurus, to share their views and experiences.
She lets us in on some noteworthy advice and what she’s learnt along the way…
How do you keep a balance between everything you have going on?
I’m not married and I don’t have children, so I guess I have it easy. Having said that I always have lots of projects on the go, plus I’ve just moved into a house which I’m renovating. If I ever feel overwhelmed I just get on with it and at least make a start on whatever tasks I’m facing. Getting started is half the battle.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Believe in yourself. Believe in your value. Never stay in a job, relationship or friendship that drains you more than it inspires you. Walk away and feel alive again. Oh, and never have an asymmetrical haircut. Big. Mistake.
In your eyes, what are your 3 biggest achievements?
Being offered my dream job at the most creative advertising agency at the time (1999: HHCL & Partners) before I’d even finished my degree and then, a few years later, being named as one of the Top 10 young creatives in London by Campaign magazine. Writing and directing two short films (outside of work) which screened at international film festivals in Cannes, LA, London and New York. Being asked to give a talk about being a female creative director and instead creating and co-curating There’s a Good Girl; an exhibition showcasing 20 female artists, including Alison Jackson, Pam Glew and Sara Pope. It received lots of press attention, including a double page spread in The Independent, and led to me founding Good Girls Eat Dinner ; a bi-monthly event where I invite four inspirational women (such as a Hollywood stunt artist) to share their experiences and advice between courses. The buzz in the room is always so positive.
Aside from your current job, what would your dream career be?
I would love to be a sitcom writer. I should confess that I recently completed a 6 week sitcom writing course but have still only got round to writing one scene. But maybe one day. In the future. When I’m better at sitting still.
What quality do you look for when hiring a new member of your team?
A positive energy and an obvious, genuine passion for fresh conceptual ideas. Genuine talent in writing, art direction or design. Mostly, the ability to generate ideas and solutions that I would never have thought up. I want to think ‘Wow, I wish I’d had that idea.’ I want to be inspired by them as much as I hope to inspire them.
What advice would you give someone wanting to emulate your success?
Don’t aim for success, aim to love what you do and if you’re lucky enough for that to happen at least 60% of the time, then success will follow. If you hate what you do you really need to make a change, fast. Ideally before you grind to a slow, painful death.
What mistake do you often see people making when they’re climbing the career ladder?
Assuming that if you work really, really hard, smile a lot, and consistently deliver then you WILL get that promotion or pay rise you deserve. Sadly, managers are often too busy dealing with the things going wrong in their company to notice the things going well (and they’re also naturally very happy to keep paying you exactly the same even if they do notice). Ask for the pay rise you want. Ask for the promotion you want. So long as you are truly indispensable you have nothing to lose.
Do you have a saying /mantra in life that you swear by?
‘Keep It Cate’ – it started as a lame in-joke after a few people (mistakenly) told me that I look like Cate Blanchett. Regardless of her looks, she uses her impressive clout and presence to unreservedly advocate for equality, which is something I genuinely admire and seek to do in my own life. Hence: ‘Keep it Cate’. How weird do I sound right now?
Who is the woman that inspires/has inspired you the most?
Following my last answer I kind of feel I have to say Cate Blanchett. But in truth, I’ve been inspired by many non A list celebrities too, including my mum. To me, she is A list for always being there and never, ever judging.
What makes you feel empowered?
Nail varnish, good jewellery and selling in great ideas. The growing popularity of Good Girls Eat Dinner and the buzz in the room each time. Walking out of a spin class dripping with sweat.
You’d be lost without…?
A creative outlet.