When’s Happy Hour?
Introduction NICE TO E-MEET YOU
It’s the second Tuesday in February; you’re in the bathroom stall in your office building, and you’re crying. Like really embarrassingly crying. Worse than Kim Kardashian after five vials of filler. It’s not because someone just died; no, it’s so much lamer than that. You just don’t want to go back to your desk. Everyone at work sucks, your boss is mean, the girls at work are petty, the coworker who ghosted you just got a promotion, and the only good thing your job has going for it are the office snacks. You ask yourself, Can I get away with staying in here until 5:00 p.m.? I literally do not care about this job, why the fuck am I here?
You’re asking yourself the wrong question. Deep down, what you’re really asking yourself is: Why do I even care about this job? Does my career even matter? If you just murmured “no” under your breath, put this book down and head over to bachelor.com/casting. Seriously, no judgment; if anything, we
fully respect your willingness to either spend your trust fund or to carry credit card debt so brazenly.
But barring future bachelorettes, the truth is, it really doesn’t matter what you do . . . to anyone but you. We’re all a little bit narcissistic and self-centered here (heads up, Peace Corps volunteer-types and the extremely PC crowd should probably see yourselves out), so if you truly care about yourself as a person, then yes, without question you should care about your career. Valuing yourself means, at least in part, that you should automatically invest a lot of thought in what you spend your waking hours doing and thinking about.
We’re going to assume that you’re the type of person who already cares a lot about your career, simply based on the fact that you opened a “career book” (we know, “career book” sounds so boring, which is exactly the problem). But let’s say this is your first time dabbling in noncomplacency. This book will show you why it’s actually worth it to invest time and energy into your own future so you don’t end up with a life that just happened to you, instead of one you created for yourself.
We all have that friend who seems to float around for her entire twenties without any real direction and no apparent desire to change that. We also all know the friend who dutifully attends her job every day but literally couldn’t care less about what she actually does beyond mining office gossip about who’s hooking up with whom. To each their own.
But as entertaining and comfortable as it is to never invest too much in your advancement—no one’s claiming to enjoy the heart palpitations that come along with a high-stakes work email—there’s something much bleaker about the thought of spending eight to ten hours a day working for results that are less important to you than those of a Watch What Happens Live poll. (Though, yes, we do feel strongly that LuAnn is going to change her ways after rehab.)
We admit that not everyone is cut out to be an executive or thrive in an environment in which money is prized as the gold standard of human worth (which, let’s be real, is true of most professions in America). TBH that is so not for us, either. We run a company whose name is derived from the word bitches, so you know our office is not exactly the trading desk at Goldman Sachs. Which is why we’re the perfect people to tell you that “passionately pursuing your career” doesn’t have to mean dealing with lame, petty bullshit typically associated with “career achievement.”
To be serious for like, a hot sec, we also want to start with a caveat and a disclaimer that what we discuss in this “career book” is not going to make sense for everyone. First of all, if you’re the type of person who has never really enjoyed or felt interest in working but have always wanted kids and genuinely feel fulfilled in taking care of your home, then this book is really not going to apply to you. But you should read it
anyway, because it’s funny, and you’re probably bored out of your mind chasing toddlers around your kitchen. For real, though, we have a ton of respect for women who genuinely want to be full-time mothers and have the resources to do that. Plus, your kids will never get to be all like, “You didn’t even raise us, the nanny did!” We feel strongly that if that is what you want, then that is exactly what you should do.
We also realize that all three of us come from specific, pretty privileged backgrounds (upper middle class, college educated, white, able-bodied) and some of our advice cannot be taken by women in situations that are unlike our own. We also realize that we have a unique situation of career experience in the start-up world and that literally everyone’s personal situation is different. We’re going to be making generalizations throughout this book that may not sit well with everyone, and—for once in our lives—we truly mean no offense. Enjoy this book for its humor, reap the benefits of whatever advice might speak to you, and leave the rest behind. Okay, now back to our very strong and important opinions.
• • •
A lot of think pieces have been thought-pieced about the internet and millennials’ usage of it, but one gift that it has for sure given each of us is the ability to be our own “brands” and to start our own initiatives without the barriers of previous
decades. It’s now easier than ever for young people to build our own paths. And we don’t just mean using the internet to blast out your new coconut-pepita raw ball recipe to two hundred people. We mean taking online courses to invest in yourself if you hate what you do and want a career change, or reaching out to people who would otherwise be inaccessible strangers for advice or new career opportunities. Not to sound lame or idealistic, but the internet contains so many more tools to help us do what we want to do and become what we want to be. So if you’re still the person who literally doesn’t care at all what you make of your life, the only thing stopping you from attempting to make changes at this point is laziness. We get it, we also just need to rewatch the entire series of The OC again.
For anyone who’s been following Betches from the beginning, you may recall that we used to ruthlessly mock people who tried in earnest to achieve anything or who worked hard in pursuit of their passions. “Not doing work” was literally one of the major pillars we wrote about in our first book, Nice Is Just a Place in France: How to Win at Basically Everything. Since then, we’ve grown up and had a change of heart. Suddenly, not giving a shit about anything doesn’t seem so cool anymore. Once we realized that working and pursuing a goal was nothing like we had been taught in school (see, school is the problem here, not us), our perspective drastically
changed. We realized that a “career” doesn’t have to be this anxiety-inducing, dreadful, boring, cookie-cutter thing. If you set yourself up to do something that motivates you and that you actually find fulfilling, your career can be as empowering as the motivational posters have been saying all along. Doesn’t that sound like it’s worth giving a shit about?
WHO ARE WE AND WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO US
It’s probably time that we introduce ourselves. We’re Aleen, Jordana, and Sami, the cofounders of Betches Media (which was Betches, also Betches Love This, also Betches Love This Site, for the truly OG readers) and the coauthors of this incredible book you’re currently half reading while streaming Netflix.
The three of us met in elementary school in Roslyn, New York. Aleen’s and Jordana’s moms were both ob-gyns and introduced the two at their fifth-grade graduation. Meanwhile, Aleen and Sami lived around the corner from each other and naturally sat together on the bus in an attempt to soak up each other’s awesomeness (without the shooters, this was like, fifth grade). And as we grew older, we only got closer. We were in a lot of the same classes, had a lot of the same friends, and all laughed at the same weird shit.
Anecdote from Eighth-Grade English Class
Jordana and Aleen will not stop talking throughout class.
: I will move the two of you if you do not stop talking this instant!
Jordana and Aleen immediately continue talking.
Mrs. Zaney: That’s it! Aleen, I’m moving you across the room. . . . Go sit behind Sami.
Aleen, Jordana, and Sami all smile at each other.
Fast-forward to like, going to college and shit. Yes, we all went to Cornell, ever heard of it? And lived together our senior year. Jordana was a policy major, Aleen was premed, and Sami studied industrial labor relations and some other Hogwartsy-sounding words. The point of telling you this is that none of us studied business but that didn’t stop us from having a really good idea one very cold and boring February night.
First we started wondering:
• What’s with all this glorified bro shit flying around everywhere?
• The things our friends do and say on a daily basis are highly offensive but also insanely hysterical.
• But really, how come guys can act like assholes and do what they want as long as they call themselves bros and the only name girls can call themselves is bitch or maybe the slightly less aggressive beyotch?
• We’re like, way funnier than a lot of these sites people are reading.
• What if we gave girls a word to be the counterpart to the bro that we can be proud to call ourselves? And then we can say what girls are actually thinking but they’re afraid to say out loud.
Friendly and fucked-up reminder: This was early 2011, before Instagram was even a thing.
That’s where Betches started. We thought that the word should be betch, because it’s the word bitch pronounced with vocal fry, which was the way everyone around us would say it—i.e., “You’re such a behhhhhtch; I love you.” We were inspired by all the satirical lists that were trending at the time (Stuff White People Like, etc.), so we figured that was the best way to portray and make fun of the betch lifestyle without sounding like total haters. After all, we were still writing about ourselves.
So we stayed up all night writing the first five articles of the Betch List:
1. “Talking Shit”
2. “Not Keeping Up with the News”
3. “Studying Abroad”
4. “Mobile Uploads”
The rest is viral history.
We chose to remain anonymous at the beginning primarily because we really wanted to get jobs at the end of the semester but also because it was kind of fun and Gossip Girly. The coolest and most surprising thing that came out of the anonymity was that it let the content go viral beyond the bubble we lived in. Girls from the Midwest and the South were freaking out, commenting things like “Omg who is writing this it sounds like my best friend wrote this” and “AMANDA IS THAT FUCKING YOU!?”
At that point, we knew we were onto something.
SO WHERE TF ARE YOU RIGHT NOW?
Can’t you just like, check our LinkedIn? Ugh, okay. So we have a real office now and everything. We have eighteen full-time employees as of this writing. We’ve never taken investment in the company, meaning we’ve been putting the profit back into the business and we still own the whole thing. (If you take investors’ money to grow your business, they want a say in how you run it.) We have two New York Times–bestselling books, a growing network of podcasts, a popular e-commerce site, and we’ve grown to an audience of more than six million on Instagram alone. There’s also a lot more to plug but we just don’t have time for that. Oh and we even have retirement accounts. We’re like, total grown-ups.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Persistence and taking a page out of Ross Geller’s book: PIVOT. PIVOOOOT.
Getting ahead in this business never really came easy to us. We didn’t “know people.” In fact, since we all came from the same town and went to the same college, we all knew the same fucking people, which really didn’t help our “network.” When we started, our network literally consisted of Sami’s business-savvy grandfather, Aleen’s tech-savvy dad, and
Jordana’s lawyer uncle. It legitimately sounded like the beginning of a terrible dad joke.
On top of that, all three of us have super-creative personalities, which doesn’t usually come with being good at networking. For example, when we finally decided to get a small office in a WeWork in 2014, we convinced ourselves that it would be a good investment because we’d be forced to meet other people. Yet, any time we saw there was an event happening on our floor, we made sure to ditch early and go out the back elevators. And then we went to have drinks together, alone.
While the above paragraph makes us sound like reclusive loners, there’s an important upside to never wanting to meet anyone new. Even though we were “antisocial” in the networking sense, being able to focus on honing our craft definitely got us to where we are now. (We’ll let you make comparisons to Steve Jobs on your own.) We kept focusing on the company’s content, while also simply/not so simply trying to figure out how said company was going to make money.
The other core idea that got us to where we are today, and that continues to drive us forward, is the subconscious decision to not hold on to the “glory days,” which allows us to constantly change our course of action. Pivoting is something we do on the reg. It’s become second nature. Holding on to old shit that doesn’t work is like Lindsay Lohan reposting an October 3 meme on October 3rd. Ugh.
Just like a person who still talks about how cool she was in high school probably hates her life right now, a company also has to evolve to be successful or it’ll get left behind. Behind every company is just a bunch of people living in a fast-paced society trying to make some fucking decisions so they don’t become irrelevant or, worse, poor.
To use ourselves as a very general example (listen, we’re going to use ourselves as an example through the whole book, so get used to it): Seven years ago, we were literally asshole kids who’d just graduated college and were convinced that we knew the answers to everything. We said whatever we wanted and got away with it because our audience was down with everything we did. Most notably, we never really called ourselves feminists. At the time, the term feminist seemed to us to mean being a man-hating extremist, and as twenty-two-year-olds we couldn’t make ourselves care about anything that much except ourselves.
But time went on and the stereotype of “feminism” began to change. We realized that we were wrong about what feminism really meant, and that duh, of course we were feminists, and proud to be. Not only did we run a business with a mission centered on female empowerment, where the vast majority of our employees and audience were women; we also realized that we could truly have an impact on advancing female equality. It dawned on us what an important opportunity this was.
This realization was not only very meaningful for us as people but also for the company, because it helped us realize that we actually had a mission beyond creating funny content (every company needs a mission—not just nonprofits like we thought when we were twenty-two—but we’ll get to that later).
Over time, we realized that the way we usually described our company was actually building the foundation of our current mission. Like, “saying whatever the fuck we wanted” grew to be “saying the things other people are too afraid to say out loud.”
“Talking shit” became “using humor to observe and call out the ridiculous behaviors we see in the world.”
And every single one of our references and questionable word choices became “speaking to women the way they speak to each other.”
And while you might be thinking, Guys, this is just marketing—you’re right, but that’s not the point. With all the time we spent growing this business and experiencing what it’s like to run a company, we learned so much about ourselves and the Betches Media you know today.
As three women who just thought we were being funny and doing what we loved, the moment we realized that the company we’d created actually had a voice that could make a difference in our fight for equality was empowering.
SO WHY READ THIS BOOK?
Serious disclaimer: Even though we’re about to give you a lot of career and entrepreneurial advice, we’ve had a very sheltered experience when it comes to understanding the workforce because we’ve only really done this one thing. We don’t claim to know everything. Everyone is just using the cards they’ve been dealt, and not everyone can afford the luxury of getting to decide what they want to do with their lives. We fully realize and feel grateful for the gift of being in this position. Namaste.
That said, we still have advice to offer, and that advice is based on our own experience. While it is singular in the sense that Betches Media is all that we know firsthand, the limit does not exist for all the crazy shit that’s happened to us and lessons we’ve learned along the way. Also, this includes all the things we’ve heard about from our friends and people we’ve surveyed in the course of writing this book. We’ve made so many mistakes and played by just as many rules as we’ve broken. We’ve failed, we’ve succeeded, we were lazy, we were stressed, and we wanted to give up. But we also worked really hard to get where we are despite the fact that one of the tenets of betchiness is getting by while doing the absolute minimum. Like we mentioned, we changed. Really mature and shit. So
you’re getting the benefit of that experience without having to live it, which is pretty efficient.
And one other thing you might get out of this book? A fucking clue.
During our years working with female millennials, we, alongside everyone else and their mothers, noticed that millennials don’t want to do much. We’re known as an entitled generation, and for a lot of us, that’s true. But as entitled as some of us may appear, the truth is that we witness firsthand every day how hardworking and driven millennials can be when they want to achieve something.
So if you need guidance for situations like: What should I ask in a first-round interview? How do I ask for a raise? How do I work crop tops into my office wardrobe? And why won’t the IT guy I hooked up with at the holiday party help me figure out how to connect to the fucking printer? If you’ve ever struggled with a workplace romance gone bad, tried to figure out how to get promoted, or found yourself so bored at work that you calculated the seconds left until happy hour, you should definitely keep reading.
Warmest regards, sincerely, and please advise,
Aleen, Jordana, and Samantha I
. Name changed, but you know who you are.