INTERVIEW: BRITT HYSEN
For our readers who don’t know, give us a little rundown of what you do. I am the founder and Editor in Chief of MiLLENNiAL. We are the platform highlighting the heroes and social impact of our global generation. The best part of my job is getting to travel and meet these incredible humans positively changing the world!
Growing up in Los Angeles and being raised with parents in the entertainment industry, how did you find yourself making the transition from the arts to journalism?
I lived my entire life thinking I was going to be an actor, and when I was 18 I booked my first audition. Three years later, I discovered the actor’s life wasn’t as fulfilling as I initially thought. It was 2009/2010, the peak of the economic recession, when I somehow found myself surrounded by Burning Man artists who were making a living doing what they loved. Around that same time, I attended a conference where the President of Discovery Channel said YouTube was the future, and in that moment I decided to pick up a microphone and start interviewing these artists on camera. I soon realized we were starting to come into our own as a unique generation, and that I would dedicate my career as a journalist to showcasing these inspirational millennials. The rest is history.
Over the years, you’ve conducted hundreds of interviews with global influencers. Now that you are on the other end of that experience, what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
The biggest lesson to learn – professionally and personally – is to have patience. Nothing happens overnight; in fact, most success stories took 10 years to build. Things fall into place when you work hard and adapt easily. Crafting a career takes precision and real strategy, but some of the best opportunities come out of the blue as a result of your persistence and belief in yourself. Be open to everything and listen to your heart. It normally knows what is best for you.
How did the idea for MiLLENNiAL Magazine come about?
MiLLENNiAL started as a way to showcase the individuals who comprise this elusive generation everyone likes to talk about but rarely identify. I wanted to add a face to the name and tell the stories of those who were changing life as we knew it.
Once you decided to move forward with creating the publication, what was the first action step you took?
The first step was calling out to content creators. You can’t have a magazine without an abundance of content. So I called all my friends and friends of friends who were photographers and writers and began producing original stories. Team is everything!
A trend I see with many entrepreneurs (especially women) is a lot self-doubt when heading their own ideas. Some call this the “Imposter Syndrome”. Did you have any insecurities about being the leader of this bold venture? If so, how did you overcome them? If not, what advice do you have for others who might be uncomfortable putting themselves in positions of power?
I think as women, we just want to be perfect, and that is an impossible feat. When it comes to business, especially in a man’s world, we have to be over-confident. This plays into our need for capital investment. Women tend to be honest and overly truthful about their feelings toward their business, and that can sometimes backfire when trying to raise money. This is something I have battled over the years – being too honest and wearing my heart on my sleeve. I’m emotional and not the best poker face, but I’m working on it.
Can you think back to a particularly difficult setback or obstacle you had to overcome? What did you learn from it?
I battle obstacles and setbacks every damn day. The best way to overcome them is to trust life has your back. If you are really meant to continue, people will reach out along the way to help you get where you are going. Call it God, the universe, or magic at work, but when you are banging your head up against a wall, something will bust through – a phone call, an email, a random stranger you meet – there will be these unique unforeseen opportunities that push you over your mental hurdle.
What was your first ah-ha moment, when you knew all your hard work was coming together as a reality?
About 4 months into the debut of MiLLENNiAL, I was scared I wasn’t going to make it. The work was so intense and overwhelming and it felt as if all our work was going unnoticed. But then, out of the blue, I got an email from The White House saying they had recognized us as an influential digital media site for millennials and wanted to welcome us to a very special summit taking place at The White House! I thought it was a scam at first, but it was real. That changed everything for me. I felt validated and confident that people were listening, were watching, and were interested in what we were doing.
What does a typical work day look like for you – morning to night?
There is no typical work day when you run a magazine. But almost ritualistically, I wake up at 6:30am or 7:00am and with one eye open I check my email for any crucially important communication. Each day varies but typically includes producing and/or publishing content, scheduling photo shoots, meeting with clients, emailing back and forth with PR reps, and of course a lot of business development. I normally don’t stop until 8-10:00pm and then go to bed by midnight.
Katie Dean, of Katie Dean Jewelry, said something very interesting when discussing running one’s own business. She said, “You find out what you’re made of”. Can you tell us about a time you surprised yourself in finding out what you were made of?
As an entrepreneur you have to learn so many different skills in case someone drops the ball or you don’t have enough money to hire someone to do the job for you. You find out not only what you are made of, but areas in which you are talented. I’ve had every creative position at some point in my career drop out on me and I needed to pick up the slack. The first time was right when I became a journalist. My video editor had another job come up and couldn’t finish my edit. I needed to learn Adobe Premier Pro and do it myself. Turns out I’m pretty good. And now I expect anyone I hire to be 10x better than me.
Another time this happened was when I was building MiLLENNiAL. I was asking for too many customizations on my template that I decided to build my own. I met with a designer who wanted to charge me $500 an hour to build wireframes and put the visual design together for my site. At that point, I learned how to draw wireframes and design my own platform.
L.A. LADY CULTURE.
Favorite area of L.A.? Hollywood! I just moved to the area and love all the new developments. It’s walkable and 20 mins from everywhere (no traffic)! … Although Downtown comes in a close 2nd place.
Favorite eatery in L.A.? It’s not gourmet or special in anyway, but it is my go-to eatery and has been a staple in my life since high school – Toi on Sunset. Added bonus: they are open till 4:00am every night!
Menu item we must order there? Pad Thai! …thank me later.
Favorite happy hour? Perch in Downtown – epic view and strong cocktails!
Favorite weekend activities in the city? Love seeing live music, checking out new bars/restaurants, hiking, etc.
Audio of choice when sitting in traffic? I’m kind of addicted to talk radio. I don’t have cable so I get my news fix when I’m sitting in traffic.
Place or thing you want to do most in L.A., but haven’t yet? The Broad! NEED TO GO. Looks so cool.
Biggest L.A. guilty pleasure? Driving my convertible on a nice day. It’s just so SoCal!