At the tail end of February 2016 we launched our Los Angeles chapter. The room (actually it was an adorably outdoor garden) was packed with ambitious women from a variety of industries, yet the common denominator was Brittany Hapner. I met Brittany through a mutual friend in Chicago back in 2014. Never would I have imagined that fast forward two years I’d be emailing and texting her hourly and leaning her on everything LA (and more). Brittany is so fast to respond to emails and on-top of everything I sometimes forget that she has a full-time job, goes to business school and has a life! I’ve been so fortunate that Brittany asked me if I needed help when launching our LA chapter and so happy to see the growth of such a strong market. Read more about Brittany and how this busy lady does it all.
1. Brittany, your work ethic and ambition amaze me! Not only do you work full-time at Pearl Street Films (say hi to Ben for me!) you also attend Business school part time and execute awesome Six Degrees Society events! How do you find the endurance to do it all? Any tips on living a life of balance?
Sometimes I wonder myself! Haha. All kidding aside, it can definitely be challenging, but like all things in life, we make time for the people we enjoy being with and things we believe in. I’ve always been worker bee and there are just so many amazing things out there that I want to be a part of, so I have a hard time saying no. I also happen to feel I’m at my best when I’m busy, so that helps! Balance is a funny thing and it’s definitely a journey for me, so for the last few years I’ve been trying to listen to myself more – my gut has proven to be a pretty great guide when making important decisions! To me, balance is accepting that it’s ok to have a cheat meal, to skip a workout or to need a night of wine and my bestfriend and not worry about the finance homework I have due, the location I still don’t have for an event or the script I need to read. I’m not sure true balance (whatever that is) will ever be attainable (for me), but knowing that I’m doing the best I can and paying attention to what I need in the moment seems to be working for now! If I have any tip to offer, it is: don’t beat yourself up for everything you haven’t done and try to give yourself credit for everything that you have. It’s something I have a hard time practicing myself, but it’s important and something to strive for.
2. You’ve done a kick-ass job being the LA Ambassador! What prompted you to reach out and be a part of the SDS team? What does being a part of SDS mean to you?
I’ve LOVED being the LA Brand Ambassador for SDS! I’m drawn to like-minded women who are
paving their own way, so from the moment you invited me to the SDS Facebook group in January, I knew I had to be involved. I’m really lucky to have a Mom who is a Boss (with a capital B!) and to have worked directly with highly successful women who are change makers in their industry, so I have a handful of phenomenal role models. From a young age, I’ve always felt a responsibility to help women better themselves and achieve their goals in whatever capacity I’m able to. I’m an entrepreneur at heart, so the “real life” business school education I’m gaining with each SDS event is invaluable and really feeds the dreamer and doer in me. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some pretty incredible women at our events; some with similar experiences as me, but most with very different backgrounds. It’s easy to get swept up in your job or industry and only meet people in that bubble, so one of the things I love most about SDS is how diverse our membership is and the possibilities that affords all of us, both professionally and socially. Plus, it’s always an added bonus to hear about a friendship-love-match made at a SDS event! Knowing we are making an impact is such a fulfilling feeling.
3. What are three things you love the most about LA?
Oh man, where do I start? I’ve lived in LA for nearly eight years, and a few of these are probably cliche LA answers, but they’re true! The first thing that comes to mind is something I’ve talked about with a handful of people recently. I am so in love with the entrepreneurial and creative spirit in Los Angeles. It’s a city that truly makes you believe that anything is possible! Maybe I’m going through a love phase (of my “love/hate” relationship with LA…something every transplant experiences) at the moment, but it’s really a special place that embraces difference.
Next up on the list is probably the hundreds of good salad options I have here (and I hated salad before moving to LA). I think a good salad is something we take for granted in LA and only realize how lucky we are when traveling to a city that is lacking. And lastly, I love how easy it is to be active and outside all year long. I was just home in Atlanta for the weekend and the heat and humidity were miserable! I couldn’t wait to get back to LA.
4. I know you suffer from the travel bug, what is your ultimate vacation?
I’m sure this won’t surprise anyone that knows me, but I have a hard time relaxing. I’m a city girl at heart, so I love a vacation where I get to explore a new city or sit at a street café and people watch. I think my study abroad experience in Italy, one that afforded me the opportunity to travel regularly, really ignited this in me. I’ve always wanted to see the world, but learning to travel and successfully navigate much of Europe without speaking every language of every country we visited gave me the confidence to keep doing it. If I do want to “relax,” I like to go to cities that I’ve previously visited and somewhat know my way around. When I visited Rome with two girlfriends a few years ago, the minute I got to the city center I felt like a local (and I was even mistaken for one, so I’ll take that as a compliment). If I had to pick one place to be my ultimate vacation, it is hands down exploring more of Italy. I lived there for 5 months and I still feel like I barely scratched the surface, plus it’s pretty safe to say it’s the only country that can always promise a great meal.
5. If you had to impart career and life advice to a college graduate, what would you tell him/her?
There’s so much I wish I knew right after graduation! The funny thing is I’m sure anything
I write here as told to me back then. Being the type A person that I am, too many times
I stressed myself out about situations that really weren’t worth the brain space. Whether it was worrying about not getting to a certain level of my career by a certain time because of what it would “look like” to other people or stressing out about taking time off, I was always very concerned about how others would feel and I neglected to consider how I would feel or what I needed. The faster you can learn what is truly worth stressing about and what is not, the better off you will be.
A few years ago I took my first non-holiday season vacation in a while and I was nervous about missing four whole days of work. As I booked my trip, my father imparted some pretty sage advice that was, naturally, something I didn’t want to hear. He said, “as important as you think you are, the world will not end because you missed a few days of work.” Of course my boss was more than happy to have me back to handle the things she wanted to avoid while I was gone, but my dad was right. The world didn’t end and my perspective changed. I know we all want to impress our bosses, prove that we are responsible, demonstrate a good work ethic and move up quickly, but it’s important to avoid getting caught up in what other people think. I know this can be very difficult in our social media obsessed society, so my advice would be to find the things that let you unplug and get back in touch with reality and the truly important things in life. Don’t miss a family function or the opportunity to spend quality time with people you haven’t seen in awhile just because you’re afraid to take a day off. Your boss won’t remember you took that day off in a few weeks anyway!