Earlier this week I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Manuszak from The Brazen Bible about breaking free from the cubicle, shameless copywriting from your gut, and doing business with all your heart and soul. You can find out more about Jess on her blog The Brazen Bible.
Can you tell me about life before the Brazen Bible?
Life before TBB consisted of many a dark beer poured into many a bowls of Cocoa Pebbles, eaten in my 387 square-foot studio apartment in a completely unsafe and totally rundown area of Denver, interrupted only by a good shower cry and a 45-minute commute (both ways) to a job that made me wonder if my boss would send me home if I made myself throw up into my blouse. (Don’t worry, it was just as fulfilling as it sounds, and you can read all about The Brazen Bible’s prologue!).
Do you write your blog posts with your end user in mind? Or do you think that hinders your creativity and shameless tell-it-like-it-is-ness?
NO WAY, JOSE. And by “Jose” I obviously mean Ann. Every single time I’ve tried to write with the end user in mind, paid any attention to whether or not something would get shared, or stressed over what my Nana would think, I’ve found myself staring at a blank screen and only able to spew out some trite B.S. like, “Live your most authentic life!” And that makes me want to stab myself in the leg with a rusty spork.
How do you prioritize projects for The Brazen Bible?
1, 2, 3, honesty? I am not very good at moderation. And while this means that I can chuck myself one hundred and eighty gajillion percent into every item on my to-do list, it also means that my to-do list could journey to the center of the earth. Twice. So to keep my head from popping off, (and trick myself into thinking I have at least some sort of vague work/life balance), I’ve made a very strict one project a week rule. Big project, small project—doesn’t matter. One project a week. This does two fantastic things for me. ForemostFANCY WORD, it lets me see exactly where my priorities are. If something’s been on my list for six months and I haven’t gotten to it, chances are it’s not actually that important and I can skip it altogether. FurthermoreEVEN FANCIER!!, it’s just a really simple way to quality control what I put out there. It’s the difference between throwing one ball up into the air over and over and catching it all the time, and trying to throw 50 balls in the air and catch them. 50 balls means BALLS GO EVERYWHERE and you don’t catch any. Just focus on one ball. It’s also worth noting that saying ball so many times in one paragraph makes me want to crack all the penis jokes.
Have you always “lived loudly” and unabashedly or did you have to coax your inner badass out of a fear/mediocrity coma?
For a long time, (we’re talking eons, here), I was the poster child for mediocrity, and I have the wrinkled khaki slacks to prove it. There I was, with a B.A. in English, working in a cube farm and dabbling in government finance. The highlight of my day? Was my 30-minute lunch break, which gave me just enough time to hork down dry chicken breast under the fluorescent lights of the cafeteria and shovel in lukewarm rice. I had a headset. I wore “practical” shoes. And the only thing that got me through the week was my tiny, dying plant, and a picture of an aardvark shouting, “COME AT ME, BRO.” It was a bleak time.
What do you think is the *worst* (or most common) excuse for not being brazen, barefaced, and glorious?
There’s a holy trifecta of excuses—not enough time, not enough money, and not enough support from friends and family. But really, these all fall under the blanket of the second-most-offensive F-word: fear. People are scared of failing, and understandably so. When you go out on a limb and start working towards what you really want, it’s like announcing to the world that you’re going to take every egg you’ve ever had and every egg you think you might ever have, and stuffing them into a wicker basket. Then, you’re declaring that you’re going to keep this basket safe. You’re going to make this basket prosper and multiply and grow until pretty soon there’s a whole other world for wicker baskets, and when the eggs hatch, there will be so many chickens that the earth will be overrun by poultry. And when you fall on your ass, (because for the first few times, you will fall on your ass), the eggs’ll get smashed, you’ll spend some time openly weeping in a Starbucks bathroom somewhere, and you’ll probably have to get your skirt dry cleaned because egg yolks stain like a sumbitch.
And how do you take that excuse and KILL IT WITH FIRE?
I repeatedly (and creepily) mumble to myself over and over that failure is temporary, but regret is permanent. Failure is just a wake-up call that you need to regroup, revise, and try again, where regret? Regret can’t be erased. There’s no way to go back in time and rewrite history. There’s no way to move backwards. (Unless you’re part of the CIA and have access to Area 51 that has all the alien technology, obviously.) And just to really extend my cheesy egg metaphor, when life gives you fear and failure, make omelettes. With bacon. And goat cheese. (You can thank me later.) [Tweet "Failure is just a wake-up call. But regret? Regret can't be erased."]
When you’re posting to the Brazen Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram how do you decide if you’re being too personal, too brazen, or just badass enough?
I try my absolute best not to filter the things that I post. If you think about, we see censored things all the time. The most obvious one is models in the media. They’re posed perfectly, absolutely airbrushed, and presented as a pristine package. As a result, there’s of course all the stuff that says this has given women unrealistic expectations about what they’re supposed to look like. And along that same vein, as a “lifestyle blogger,” I feel like perfectly positioning my life—airbrushing my life—, gives people unrealistic expectations about what living actually looks like. Also, I couldn’t stop dropping f-bombs and finding fart jokes unreasonably funny if my fucking life depended on it.
Do you ever worry about the fuzzy/arbitrary line between totally professional and cray cray?
Of course! Of course I do. But since I am my own brand, ($10 into the douchebag jar), that line is becoming smaller and more blurred. I am The Brazen Bible. The Brazen Bible is me. (Now cue the inspirational mood music.)
How long have you been hustling Brazen Bible?
Unofficially, since November of 2012. Officially since March of 2013! My one year anniversary’s coming up, and that makes me want to take The Brazen Bible out to dinner, buy it a bottle of moderately-priced wine, and try to get in its pants.
Have your goals for it changed since the beginning of your brazen journey?
Definitely. When I first started TBB, it was a completely vain hub on the interwebz where I could complain about how miserable I was and hope that somehow, somewhere, Andy Samberg would read it, feel sorry for me, and ride in on a white horse to save the day. But then he got married. So. But in all honestly, what started as a place to whine and get attention, (real talk), has become a home for those who know that if they’re not fighting (tooth and nail) for what they want, they’re settling for less that they deserve. That if they stop dreaming and striving and thriving that they’re giving in and fading to grey. That want to wake up most mornings and throw literal heaping fistfuls of confetti at the prospect of having another day to adventure. (Note: The glitter gets messy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Do you have magical productivity blinders on that keep you laser focused on your Brazen Bible goals?
GO, GO, GADGET GIN! Kidding. If booze made me more productive I would absolutely be ruling the world by now. From Mars. With a whole army of puggle puppies. The Brazen Bible’s goals are always growing and morphing and adapting, and I love it that way, so my laser-focus is more like a planetarium Pink Floyd laser show with roughly ninety four thousand beams of light shooting in all directions.
If not, how do you stay motivated?
GO, GO, GADGET GIN?
Why is writing with personality important even AT ALL? Won’t people think I’m crazy unprofesh if I just write the way I speak?
If you don’t let your personality into your writing, people will naturally assume that you’re actually a high-functioning robot, and people don’t want to do business with hunks of metal. (I’m actually only partly kidding.) Personality is your chance to connect with YOUR PEOPLE. It’s your opportunity to blast the doors open on your brand. It’s an invitation to let clients in. And above all else? It’s an free pass to make fart jokes on the internet. Want to find out even more about Jess and living out loud? Check out her blog The Brazen Bible: The Go To Guide for Kicking Life in the Nards.