People of Creativity managed to steal a moment of Abadesi's time! In between keeping the wheels going as founder of the amazing Hustle Crew + Community and Product Hunt, Abadesi takes a moment to share how despite a traditional upbringing & education, she pursued (and killed!) a creative career.
Are you currently working on a personal project?
My personal project is Hustle Crew - a career advancement community for the underrepresented in tech. As my career progress I became frustrated about the informal channels exploited by successful people in the industry - personal connections, status, etc. I realised diversity would never happen unless underrepresented groups started exploiting these channels, too. That's essentially what the mentors and I now do for our community. We focus on people at university or just starting out their career, and equip them with the connections and advice we've gained in ours, so they can accelerate their journeys and rise to the top, quicker.
Have you always wanted to work in the creative industry? If yes, can you tell us why? If not, how did you land your current position?
I studied Economics and Government at the London School of Economics and had such a strict, traditional upbringing that the idea of pursuing anything beyond my dad's plans for me was impossible until I was about 21 years old. Writing that sentence feels absurd but that's the truth. I remember wanting to study Art and Drama for my A-Levels and my dad declaring they weren't real subjects and it wouldn't be realistic to consider pursuing creative jobs or projects full time. After my first permanent role in the city I made a decision to make career choices autonomously, and that's how I found myself working in a startup called Groupon, which went on to have a record-breaking multi-billion dollar IPO while I worked there. Having tasted the startup life I could never dream of returning to corporate life.
What has been your biggest achievement to date and why?
My biggest achievement today has to be writing by first book, www.hustlecrew.co/book. Growing up I struggled to find women role models I could relate to on many levels. To this day Oprah Winfrey remains one of my idols, and I've been able to add other great women like Serena Williams and Issa Rae to my list, but it's still a challenge to find business and career books written by women of colour. Most famous women of colour are in the arts or sport. My book is my contribution to changing that. It's the first book in a series of three, with the rest following over the next few years.
What would you describe as you biggest obstacle so far?
Interestingly my biggest obstacles so far have been my own limiting mindsets and naivety about the working world. In the past I've let my own perfectionism and fear of failure hold me back from taking more risks in my career. I've also been naive about the power of invisible structures like patriarchy, and internalised lots of difficulties as if I were wholly to blame. Now that I've educated myself more I realise I had oversimplified reality. The realisation was refreshing and empowering.
Taking a lighter note what and who inspires your creative process?
My creative process is inspired by my life. Pretty basic but it's an endless source of inspiration. I've never lost my inner child which lets me view the world and the people in it with constant curiosity and surprise. I interpret the world around me through my unique lens, a combination of my upbringing and experiences I have intentionally and unintentionally endured. My first book, 'Dream Big. Hustle Hard' is a reflection on my career to date, the lessons I've learned along the way, my cultural views and how they've evolved over time. It's an advice guide interspersed with my experiences as a woman of colour in the mostly male and mostly white tech industry.
What three tips would you give your younger self?
1 - make your own definition of success
2 - work on improving your self-awareness daily
3 - perfectionism will only hold you back in life
What words of wisdom do you have for other creatives?
Don't be afraid. Don't think too much - just start doing something.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would you message be?
Read up on privilege in the context of social justice, understand what privileges you have and be accountable to promoting and fostering equality.
What legacy would you like to leave behind?
Whoa, big question! To have made the lives of those I care most about, better in some way :)
What's the next step for you on your creative journey?
For the next year I'll be focused on an unofficial book tour for Dream Big. Hustle Hard working with student societies and grassroots communities to spread the knowledge in it to as many people as possible, particularly POC and WOC. I'll also start writing Dream Big. Hustle Hard 2, which is focused on climbing up the corporate ladder, navigating the tricky landscape of promotions, and developing your personal brand.