“The worst advice, career-wise that I’ve received has actually come from myself,” bestselling author Elaine Welteroth tells ABC News’ Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.
Welteroth’s career has been as unique as it is successful. In 2016, at 29 years old, she became the youngest person and the second African American person to hold an editor-in-chief title at Conde Nast when she took on the role at Teen Vogue. She’s also an award-winning journalist, has written for ABC’s "Grown-ish" and currently is a judge on Bravo’s "Project Runway" alongside Brandon Maxwell, Nina Garcia, Christian Siriano, and Karlie Kloss.
The advice Welteroth mentions happened before her success, toward the beginning of her career when she was in her early 20s.
“I remember being asked for a career mantra ... and I found this quote from 'Crocodile Dundee' online ... the quote said, ‘Bite off more than you can chew and chew as fast as you can.’ And I thought, 'Yes, that’s it, that’s the recipe for success.'”
She says that she began to practice that mantra in her everyday life and would preach the advice to her mentees, but as her career progressed, she realized it was actually a recipe for burnout.
“In your 20s, you are still learning how to set boundaries in your relationships, at work you’re still learning yourself and you’re just learning how to move through the world ... and I think it took turning 30, experiencing burnout and having my priorities shift to help me recognize that I would give my 20-year-old self very different advice today. I would say bite off what you can chew, chew slowly, laugh in between bites and digest fully.”
Now at 32 years old, Welteroth has found a balance with a conscious emphasis on pacing herself throughout her life and career. She says it’s not about necessarily slowing down but realigning priorities to spend time on projects and relationships she finds most important. She also makes sure to schedule “joy” on her calendar in between work.
“I think that sometimes as women, especially in leadership roles, that we have the tendency to do work that isn’t ours to do and to say ‘yes’ when sometimes the answer should be ‘no’. And I think we need to learn to create boundaries to do the best work that we should be doing and not other people’s work.”
Hear more from Elaine Welteroth on episode 125 of the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.