Elana Lyn Gross is an account manager and content strategist at mllnnl, a journalist, and the founder of Elana Lyn. Elana Lyn is a professional and personal development site that provides millennial women with actionable job search, career, and wellness advice. Elana's writing has been published in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Thrive, Women's Health, Business Insider, Fast Company, Mashable, Refinery 29, Brit + Co, The Huffington Post, and more. When she's not writing, she's likely to be found in Central Park.
How did you get to where you are today?
After graduating, I became a paralegal at a prestigious law firm in New York City. Amidst stacks of briefs, blue books, and binders, I realized how much I missed writing, creativity, and truly having ownership of a project. While I checked brief citations and compiled velo-bound documents, posts would go out filled with topics I cared about.
When I started my blog, I never imagined that my blog might help me get hired for new jobs, but that’s exactly what happened. The founder of a women’s career development startup followed my blog posts on Twitter, and after writing about her company a few times as well volunteering for them, I was invited to join their team as the social media manager. I discovered that I enjoyed writing both short form and long form content and I started writing for them and other publications. Blogging helped me make the switch from the legal industry to journalism and marketing.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
I was born three months premature and weighed a pound and eight ounces. I was extremely fortunate to have supportive parents and talented nurses and doctors at Lenox Hill. It's so far removed from who I am now, but hopefully, parents who read this will get strength from seeing that everything can end up more than okay.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
Write a mission statement that encompasses your values and goals. For example, I write actionable personal and professional advice to help women accomplish their goals.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
When I interviewed Lisa Sugar, the founder of POPSUGAR, for Forbes she explained the meaning behind her motto: Work hard and play nice. She said "It means being a good person and having respect for coworkers and partners. We can still be fiercely competitive and not back down. It doesn’t mean being overly sweet either; you can still be badass. 'Work hard, play nice' simply reinforces that it’s much more of a pleasure to work with people who are part of a team, lifting each other up, listening to one another, and in it together as opposed to egotistical, selfish rule-breakers who think they are better than everyone else." Yes to all of this! Out of the more than 200 women I've interviewed, Lisa's career path and values are most aligned with my own.
What advice do you have for another person who is looking to start a new venture?
My best advice for writers is to be authentic and develop your own unique voice. Let your personality shine through! Your writing will be more enjoyable to read and people are more likely to keep coming back because they feel like they know you.
Being authentic and genuine is important in all aspects of your life. I think that you can only be happy when you are accepted for being yourself. Of course, strive to be the best possible version of yourself, but don’t try to be someone you’re not. You'll be more successful if you embrace and celebrate what makes you, you.
On a more tactical level, I just created my first course, Pitch Perfect: How to Get Your Writing Published in Top Publications. It has everything I've learned through trial and error including how to pitch publications, set your rates, become a contributor, and more.
How do we get more women leaders?
I recently interviewed the founders of Werk, the first marketplace for top jobs with pre-negotiated flexibility, for Forbes. Flexible work is the future of feminism and a solution for keeping women in the leadership pipeline.