5 Things Running Man Repeller Taught Me
11.02.15
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When I started writing Man Repeller, like, five years ago, the impetus of my hitting publish was absolutely nothing beyond my thinking that I had an opinion that was being underserved. (That opinion, of course, was that fashion is for women, not men, and why wouldn’t it be?)

I’ve been thinking a lot about that initial motivation lately — partially because of the burn out conversation that’s winning the most air time, but also because as Man Repeller evolves from a single person blog to a micro-sized niche media company and the list of to-dos on my priority list shifts from such incorporeal tasks as, “Think about why Gucci’s Spring shoes are a physical manifestation of the American dream,” to the more tactile, “Make sure developer is aware of final redesign notes, schedule 1:1 with director of sales, call recruiter,” I have to consciously think about that initial motivation to remain energized so as not to lose sight of the future of this thing. It might sound counterintuitive — remember the past, cherish the past, honor the past to carve the future — but it works. Or at least I think it does. Ultimately, I guess we’ll see.

But anyway, the other thing is that I’ve also been thinking about myself.

People are always trying to decipher between who they are in the work place and who they are at home. When I was young, I often heard adults speak of their peers as, “shrewd in business, but family oriented,” which I took to mean as, these people are assholes who happen to have kids. Because the thing is, who we are at work reflects who we are at home and vice versa. Irrational hotheads don’t just switch off when they walk through a door marked “work” or “home” and boom! They’re yoga teachers. That’s not how it works. But appraising who you are at work does allow you to much more objectively consider your character traits and adjust accordingly.

Example: I am really impatient. In my personal life, this has meant thoughtlessly arguing with people I love because I assume they’re saying something they’re not because I’m too impatient to let them finish. Whatever! It’s who I am! Sue me. Love trumps all, doesn’t it? But that doesn’t work at work. Because if you let foolish impatience reign supreme, your employee-retention rate becomes exactly the one man show you’ve been building against. Does that make sense? There are some other things I’ve learned.

Like…

Vulnerability keeps you moving. Once I told someone who asked for business advice to bask in her plight. What I meant was that complacency is bad for creativity — it’s the extinguisher that puts out the under-ass-fire. For me, it’s always during those sort of restless moments of acute vulnerability that my vision feels a little bit clearer, my priorities start to shift in a different direction and my ideas, even if they don’t feel this way, are the most fertile.

Kindness trumps niceness. It took me a while to realize that being kind and being nice are not mutually exclusive. You can be kind and nice, but you don’t have to be nice to be kind. In my opinion, it’s much more important to maintain kindness — the sort of humanity that emanates from the innermost slime of your guts — as opposed to niceness, which is often motivated by vanity. Specifically in media, where there is always a microphone up for grabs and an audience waiting to be developed, ask yourself: what’s the fucking point of commanding attention if you’re not going to use that power for good?

Your gut is an oracle. So trust that. Be as confident in what you don’t know as you are in what you do.

On what you don’t know: My dad always used to tell me not to try to get better at what I’m bad at, but to find people who are naturally good at those things. I didn’t get what this meant until I was filing an invoice and accidentally left a zero off of the total sum owed. Einstein said if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will spend its life thinking its a failure. If “tree” is a metaphor for life, there is a 0% chance you’re not a squirrel in some capacity.

On what you do know: Just because something comes easy to you doesn’t mean that’s true for everyone. Listen to that. Give it everything and know that there are two kinds of voices in your head: the honest ones and the liars. The difference between the girl in the front of the fitness class doing 85 burpees like she’s a principal dancer at the NYC ballet and me in the back looking like Quasimodo as I struggle to get through three is that I let the liars in.

Quality is king, quantity feeds obesity. I think this has been the most important one. It is so easy to get caught up in the science of building a “successful” platform — to determine the math equation that injects your product with the hormones that make it plump like a perfectly round chicken on a rotisserie at McDonald’s, but everyone’s perception of success is different and more and more, I’m learning that I’m here to make you feel. To feel myself. And maybe that makes me a stalk of broccoli (please say it doesn’t), but from my understanding, broccoli never killed anyone — only simply enhanced their quality of life. Here’s hoping.

Photographed and collaged by Krista Anna Lewis

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  • I really enjoyed reading this. This are precisely reasons I love coming back to Man Repeller because it isnt just attention grabbing BS advice. You are definitely no stalk of broccoli 😀 Greetings from your loyal readers at modern melange! http://www.modernmelange.com

    • like Phillip answered I cannot believe that you can make $9890 in 4 weeks on the computer.try this website on `my` `prof1le`
      xrdfcfvg

  • Great point about the vulnerability leading to a new insight – it’s a bit like how you feel better after you’ve had a good cry. Before you give in to it you just think it;s going to make it all worse … then afterwards, you wipe your eyes/nose … and things start looking up. [Not up your nose]. You gain a kind of clarity.

    Loved this post Leandra.

  • Well, I love broccoli, so I’d say that’s a compliment. I recently opened my computer and went straight to YouTube (habit) but I found myself completely bored with the selection available. The content became stale. Too many “October Favorites” and not-so-funny funny videos. And I couldn’t help but think, the Internet is so freaking vast and yet we have managed to create such a homogeneous community. Needless to say, I left YT without watching any of the videos.

    However, if you are lucky you’ll find gems within the noise. Man Repeller is definitely one of them. And I also discovered that Vimeo has far color content than YT.

  • Isadora de Andrade

    I feel like “content” is a word being used very carelessly nowadays. Between listicles and gross gossip and “opinion pieces” of 4 lines in fashion blogs, I don’t get what’s going on with writers anymore…
    The reason I keep coming back to MR is that I’m always sure I’ll find a point of view here from you and your (amazing) team of writers. Maybe I’ll agree or disagree, but it will always make me think – even if it’s about why I am so obsessed with Sex and the City (I’m a Charlotte).
    This that you’re doing is NEEDED. Don’t ever change, you beautiful bunch of broccoli! <3

  • I feel like when I read Man Repeller, you always manage to put into words what I’ve been thinking or feeling recently. What you said about complacency being bad for creativity is a big one for me right now as I try to find a career where I’m challenged, but not overwhelmed.

    And as a writer, I find the writing you guys do refreshing. It makes me think about what I’m saying, why I’m saying it and how I’m saying it (usually with as much snark as possible). I really appreciate that.

  • Yes on everything. I was having such a hard time trying to write a “how to” post, because that is what gets all the views, that is how you become “useful and successful” online. I said screw it, and wrote from the heart. I have gotten a lot of messages from people telling me thank you for writing this. That will forever be 10000x better than another how to post for the bunch. Thank you for writing this!

  • Fan from NZ

    Love your work Leandra.. and Amelia is a hoot!!

  • BK

    Please write more about kindness vs. niceness specifically, as a supplement to both this piece and your earlier writing on the rise of niceness in fashion. Kindness is a virtue, niceness gives me a stomach cramp.

    • CC

      I second that! Kindest is genuine and honest. Niceness makes me question intent. Its all about appearances, and yes it makes my teeth hurt like when you eat too much sugar… or maybe I’m just grinding them.

    • allie

      Agreed! I also think niceness is a surface level thing, and kindness goes
      much deeper. To be nice is to be friendly and maybe do someone a favor, but to be kind is to do more than just greet someone. Kindness is illustrated through actions that stem from being considerate and, in fact, nice but it goes beyond niceness.

  • erin

    “Call recruiter”???? Girl. Call ME.

  • Holy smokes SUCH a good read. Especially good point about the missing zero and fish and squirrel. Also, I also don’t like the way people think they can get away with being radically different (i.e. radically douchebag) in their professional sphere then lovely in their personal. Good one! Thanks!

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    This is real and you really express this at Man Repeller, Leandra.

  • Couldn’s agree more!

    Xx, Daria
    http://rebeldescent.blogspot.com

  • Mariana

    Sometimes I think we are lost twin sisters, but you were sent to USA and I to Portugal, because we have the same line of thinking in so many different issues. That is why I end up coming here every day to read what you, Amelia and the rest of the team have to say, your voice really matter to me, either because you make me think about stuff I’ve never imagine or because you validate so many of my own thoughts. Keep the good work, guys!

  • Max xx

    love you Leandra!!

  • Pitita Alcala

    Okay, the asshole inside me that gets to come out and boss it up in the name of work needs to be put down. I have to agree alongside my co-workers. Here’s to a kinder world. Nice discussion 🙂

  • Lola

    Thank you! I’m really having a hard time bringing the values i’m trying to cultivate in myself in my adult life (kindness, tolerance, letting go a bit) into my professional life, where being a bit pushy is celebrated.

  • Tia Elisabeth

    I really loved this piece!! Reading ManRepeller is always so refreshing and I especially enjoy these kinds of posts, that give more of an insight into what goes on behind the scenes and how you continuously maintain your ethos and central voice after all of this time and success. I’m a nosy person – I like all these juicy details 😉 Moreover, it’s really nice how genuine these tips are, unlike the generic, formulaic, click-bait articles of this variety. Thank you for always retaining authenticity, and as you say, having a legitimate intent and purpose for your writing. It actually makes your site worth reading amid the otherwise somewhat monotonous world of digital publishing.

    It’s also really relevant to me because last year, when I was 15, I founded a digital magazine for smart young fashion creatives (Couturesque, hit us up!!) and it has been a considerable challenge for me to strike a balance between remaining authentic and motivated as things grow and change around me, and being aware of how I define success – is it numbers or physical evidence, or is it the rush that I get just from looking at our homepage when we have good articles up, or when I get an email (even if its just a short one) from Valentino?? I think it’s beautiful how the Internet has bred a vessel for people to define success as they see it, authentically and vulnerably, and in a way that is infinitely self-motivating and fluid. x Thanks for always keeping it real with ManRepeller!!

  • Bria

    Loved that you made it a point to differentiate kindness from niceness. I had never thought of it that way before.

  • Fanette Guilloud

    Regarding the last part : Well I guess I would say that Man Repeller is more this kind of dish you just found out you really love but it still is something (quite) healthy and good overall, a kind of post-teenager McDonalds (but so, so far from broccoli – except if you love broccolis, heh). Definitely comfort food. That makes you think.

  • Monika Idzior

    Leandra, I fucking love you— you’re an inspiration to all!!!! I would like to see more of these kinds of posts. This is better than any self-help book. Your take on life makes me want to laugh and cry and pursue my dreams of being the first fashion designer on Mars all at the same time.

  • Elva Lexa

    I love You

  • Aprivé Wellness

    Love this. No matter if we’re in the wellness industries, fashion or even construction, your biz tips work for everyone. I’ve only been in business 11 months, but I’ve really found trusting my gut and quality of quantity to be so important. Great post.

  • makspiller

    I’ve been reading MR since I was in high school because its mission stood out to me so strongly as a young woman trying to find my place and style in a culture that so often tells women that our appearance is for the male gaze. It’s incredible to watch MR grow and remain so true to its integrity. As I’m working to grow into a young professional, MR and especially Leandra have been such an inspiration, thank you for that !

  • Meghan Kim

    Yes! Kindness is totally different than niceness. I’m not nice but I’m always kind (well, not always, but I try).