Episode 187 // She Caused a Riot with Hannah Jewell

July 31, 2018

Hannah Jewell, author of She Caused a Riot, joins us to share how writing about women in history has shaped how she views life today, how she’s cultivated her sense of humor while tackling serious topics, and the huge importance of creating what it is you want with abandon.

This Episode Brought to You By:
"The best chance you have of getting the recognition you deserve is just by doing the work."
- Hannah Jewell

Discussed in this Episode

  • All about Hannah's book + her journey getting there
  • Cultivating a sense of humor in a serious environment
  • Hannah's book-writing process (especially for a research-heavy book)
  • Connecting with historical figures and events to make sense of what's happening today
  • The importance of doing the thing—at least in part—that you want to be doing
  • Calling people out fairly

Resources

More from Hannah Jewell

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.

Transcript

Kathleen Shannon 0:00
Hey Emily, guess what I'm looking forward to

Emily Thompson 0:04
if I had to guess I'd say your next meal all through that.

Kathleen Shannon 0:08
But even more than that I'm looking forward to our annual being boss vacation in New Orleans.

Emily Thompson 0:13
Same. We still have a handful of tickets left. So if you've been wanting to join us on our annual being boss vacation in New Orleans and consider this you're signed to join us for a live podcast recording, masterclasses and workshops, and an epic Abbas celebration and more with me, Kathleen and your creative peers from all over the world

Kathleen Shannon 0:35
in the most magical city in the world, right?

Emily Thompson 0:39
Yes. All right.

Kathleen Shannon 0:40
The being boss vacation is happening September 26. To the 28th in New Orleans. Go to being boss club slash Nola. For all the details.

Emily Thompson 0:50
We hope to see you there.

Kathleen Shannon 0:55
Hello, and welcome to

Emily Thompson 0:56
being boss, a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Hannah Jewell 1:03
I'm Hannah Joe and I'm doing my best to be boss. Even when I don't feel that all the time I'm being a boss. Okay.

Emily Thompson 1:16
Today we're talking about women in history who did what they want with Hannah jewel. As always, you can find all the tools books and links we referenced on the show notes at WWW dot being boss club.

Kathleen Shannon 1:31
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Emily Thompson 2:34
Hannah jewel is the pop culture host on the Washington Post's video team and the author of the new book. She caused a riot a book about the awesome ladies that history forgot.

Kathleen Shannon 2:48
Hannah Welcome to being bossed we're so excited to have you on the show. Because excited to be here. Thank you. You wrote a book called she caused the riot and we actually your publisher sent us an advanced copy. We wrote a blurb like months ago, I finally got the print copy in the mail. like just yesterday. And the back of it. I have to read this for our list. There was not much okay, this is on the back cover. So your book is beautiful. It's bright yellow, with hot pink script. The typography is I think the same as the being boss logo. Um, it's so I love it. And so on the back it says this the only thing on the back cover there's not a photo of you there's no blurbs is this and a barcode. There was not much he could do when faced with so many well organized vaginas seeking vengeance. Why?

Emily Thompson 3:44
No, that's not gonna make every woman I know buy that book. I don't know why.

Hannah Jewell 3:49
That's a thing I feel like I was. So this is like my first book. And I was so involved in making sure everything on the inside was as I wanted it to be, and letting my wonderful publisher sourcebooks. They're designed to make it look like this. And remember picking the quote on the back was kind of like a like a last minute like, sure. Put that on there. And then and then realizing how like, Oh, that's such an actually a huge choice to have that there. And I'm actually here at the post a colleague of mine is a colleague is piloting a kids show like a science kids show. And she was like, oh, like at the beginning of this episode. I'll just be reading your book and then I'll come down and like I'm like, Yeah, awesome. And then I'm like, wait, it's got like vaginas right there and like it is a science show. But she was little like, okay, we'll just so the front cover of that, but it was a way to be a little edgy on there without necessarily crossing any lines of

Emily Thompson 4:38
decorum. I feel like this book is so is so wonderfully edgy, but I'm also mad that I have to say that it's edgy.

Unknown Speaker 4:47
Yeah, I know what you mean. Yeah. Like, like women did science. Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.

Emily Thompson 4:53
But it's so fantastic. So we do get a copy of this book several months ago. We were reading it. This has been the book that I read in the airport like it's the book that while while I'm waiting on a flight, I'll get it out on my iPad and I'll read a couple about a couple of women because the book is she calls the riot 100 unknown women who built cities sparked revolutions and massively crushed it. And so I'll open it and read about you know, 510 women while I'm waiting on on the airplane to show up or whatever it may be. And I will be laughing out loud, like super embarrassingly, like sitting there with my like, hands on all like bundled up like a hermit just laughing at this hysterical, amazing, illuminating a book that you have written and should have been written and shared with everyone 100 years ago, 500 years ago, but here it is now. And I think it's spectacular.

Hannah Jewell 5:45
Thank you so much. I hope when you're laughing at it, you then hold it up and turn your iPod around and you're like everybody available don't

Emily Thompson 5:54
begin doing that for sure. I will say since it has come out. So the being boss book actually came out about the same time at yours. Yeah, congratulations on yours. Thank you very much. But I've been spending some extra time around bookstores like scanning the shelves you know just making sure a lot more places that our says it's everywhere I see it everywhere I go and I love seeing it.

Hannah Jewell 6:16
I shout out to my my marketing team slash publicist in their their hustle for putting it I think it being Women's History Month it came out in Women's History Month in March. And it it's that got like Barnes and Noble to put it places but I definitely go and I went in a bookstore here in DC called politics and prose the other day, and I like didn't immediately see it. It wasn't with history. And it wasn't on like a shelf it normally was. So I was little like sad and about to leave. And then my friend was like, Don't be ridiculous. My like really like, ballsy girlfriend. And she was like, oh, like, she goes up. She's like, excuse me. Do you have this book? He's like, Oh, yes, they did. And they like she brought me over. And we found it. And I'm like, Oh, I'm so glad it's here. It's a weird new thing to be sensitive about which now you understand as well. And it's ridiculous. Because you think of like getting a book out being a lifelong goal. And then and then getting it done. And then there's this whole new set of like, insecurities and doubts.

Unknown Speaker 7:11
But anyway, we're sure

Emily Thompson 7:12
well tell us a little bit about yourself. What are you doing now? And how did you get here and especially here being writing this book?

Hannah Jewell 7:20
Okay. Yeah, it's such a strange path. I think I've taken I mean, it's not that strange, but it's not like I you know, I didn't wrestle any bears to get to my current career. But um, I am currently a on camera journalist for the Washington Post's video team. We have a kind of new, we have a big video team here, but who are all swirling around me right now. But we have a new section of that video team called creative video. And this is where there are some sort of satire video writers and producers, as well as on camera journalists in for instance, science and politics, and I'm the pop culture on camera host. So I got to for instance, go to the Oscars and instead of in the past, the post might have had just a camera sitting there in fact, I don't think we did have a video feed ever on the Oscars red carpet. Instead they're like sent me and I me and my colleague Dave, who is also an on camera guy behind camera guy does everything guy. We're just squeezed into 18 inches of space and the Oscars red carpet. Well I like desperately screamed for celebrities to come and talk to us. And we just had like a live feed on it for like a an hour I forget how long an hour and a half maybe and it's a very strange experience just filling space then we have a kind of like a half a million views that did pretty well. And so I do things like that live things I make. I appear in likes more silly, scripted satirical things. And do some like generic interviews, less generic interviews, great interviews, with sort of people in entertainment. And before that I my job before this was at BuzzFeed UK and the London office. Cuz I am both British and American. I was born in London, grew up in California, and then kind of wasn't doing a lot after college. I had studied Middle East Studies as my undergrad degree. And then I was kind of for two years in San Francisco just living with my friends playing a lot of pool doing a number of part time jobs as a research assistant for Professor doing weird like extra work in any movie that was a piglet was shooting in the Bay Area, working with a bunch of kids at a Arab cultural and community center who were recently arrived immigrants and, and writing a weird marketing blog that I didn't care about didn't have my name on it. But they paid me $18 for post. And after a couple years I'm like, I'm not like none of this is adding up to anything so then I decided to try and go to grad school. Still in the same area as my undergrad. I decided to go and do international relations. And politics masters, I applied for Cambridge because I have family there my favorite, craziest uncle lives there. And I was very interested in having that experience of like the British elite in this world that I was sort of had never seen into and was interested in that and in studying learning more, and right after that, I got hired as a an editorial fellow, which was like a glorified intern at BuzzFeed. And while I was there, I did just everything I did the sort of basic quizzes that I'm sure you have taken. And lists and everything. I also did a small amount of reporting and I my main favorite thing to do there was making fun of both British and American politics for like a transatlantic audience explaining ridiculous things that happened in British politics to Americans and vice versa. 2016 was a good year for that with with Brexit with the 2016 election. Yeah, and then I got this book deal based on a my literary agent in London his son had seen a post I did for BuzzFeed called How to tell apart all the white men and Theresa Mays cabinet because she had released a cabinet photo with all these like men just like all just like looking like slightly red in the face. And you know, looking important and looking looking rich and I just thought this was an easy punching up situation comedic Lee speaking and so I, I just like, had a short, humorous instruction of how to identify this person to light up. And yeah, and I met my this agent emailed me saying, Do you have any book ideas? I was like, Oh, yes, I have many thinking he would be like, cool. Let's meet in a couple of weeks. And he was like, great. Meet me tomorrow morning at this fancy private member's club in London. No, fuck shit. I don't know if this is a swearing podcast, but

Kathleen Shannon 11:53
now it is. Please do it. Big already next

Hannah Jewell 11:57
logo. Perfect. Um, yeah, so I just this was an idea I had had. It really was like an idea. I toyed with I had written about women in history. Speaking of swearing, my first article I did about women in history for BuzzFeed was called 12 historical women who gave no fucks. And I went, and I was like, how about a book length version of that? He was like, sounds good. That's and I was like, I have other ideas. He's like, no, that's the one. And so I had just always had such a huge response whenever I wrote about women in history, in the language of the Internet, and of millennials and of millennial women. And there was obviously a lot of interest in that, and a lot of relief and people enjoying writing or learning in a way that was not, you know, like, overly somber, overly self important and my ability my writing to just not take myself too seriously either, I think, makes it a more more of a mass appeal more is I just don't want to like feel like you're being punished while reading this. So yeah, I wrote this book in pretty much a summer between leaving BuzzFeed when I heard from my now boss, on my, my team at the post, who reached out to me based on work I'd done there, seeing if I want to come join her here. And I was like, cool. Just give me a couple months to write a book. And then I just had this crazy summer last year. Yeah, cranking this out? Yeah.

Kathleen Shannon 13:21
So obviously, you're funny. You were mentioning who you are. But I'm curious about the politics, the political aspect of your career, the Cambridge the elite? How did you maintain that sense of humor through all of that stuff? Or did you like train? Did you even like inside? were like, how did you keep from letting you know probably the people that you're surrounded by? or How did you maintain nurture that are cultivated or at least not evenly dampen it down? Or did you dampen it down depending on those situations,

Hannah Jewell 14:07
I think I do have a hard time being serious a lot of the time, and I got that from my mom. She's just never been a serious person. And I think that I was surrounded by like, especially at Cambridge, a bunch of people from all over the world, young people who were learning basically and training to be diplomats for their countries and going into the most serious types of careers and, and I remember while being there, well being very academically interested in what we were studying and I did international law and it was such an amazing just like mental exercise learning from this top international lawyer called Mark Weller, who's constantly had to like leave to go negotiate treaties around the world and and me loving I loved learning about that, but I was also just like, I'm just not as like professional as everyone around me. Like, I would like to relate to everything. thing, which continues to be a problem, barely able to put on clothes. And I was around these people who were like, also like wonderfully funny, warm, great people, but who just like were professional people. And while I was at Cambridge, even though I was putting in this work and studying what I was studying, I was also interested in going there because Cambridge has a very famous comedy scene from which all of the great British comedians, not all of them, but many come through a group called the Footlights. And while I was there, I did every Tuesday night at 11pm. The Footlights do a show called a smoker, where everyone gets like three minutes to sketch or stand up. And I was like, I have to do I have to try this. And they do the first one they do each year as the virgin smoker. So anyone who's never done one before, so I was like, Okay, my, my new year's resolution for I think 2013 was to do three minutes of stand up. And I was like, I got all year to do it. But I have to do it. And it got to be October, and there was this opportunity. So I went and did the stand up. And I was just like, this feels amazing. And it's not I like stand up. It's not the world in which I'm usually being comedic. But I definitely see that I spent my time at Cambridge, learning how to make memes about our professors like doing the kind of like writing a column that was like a funny column about feminism. And even though my degree was in international relations, I, I took advantage of my time there. And as you have in any university setting, meeting the people and building skills for the thing that I was slowly realizing I was like, actually, I just want to be a silly person. And at the end of my master's, I was applying for two jobs at once. I was applying to be someone's assistant at the Council on Foreign Relations Think Tank here in DC. And I was applying to be a BuzzFeed intern. And I remember just being like, What am I supposed to do with my social media presence right now and qualifying for two jobs. And I was trying to make like, slightly witty jokes about international relations. And you had to do test posts applying for BuzzFeed. And one that I did was ranking the judges of the International Court of Justice by sexiness, because I was like I did in the library and Cambridge one day, people were setting and because I was learning about, you know, international law, and I was just like, look at these, like, I don't even remember how many justices there are, but like either nine or 11 or something, just, you know, serious people and just poking fun at them. And like in a kind of positive way, ended up being like, the type of humor that got me this, this gig at BuzzFeed, which sort of led to everything else. So yeah, I think that I it was sort of a good realization, that was not a sad realization that it's like, oh, like I, you know, if I had to be awake really early every day, or if I just, you know, if I couldn't crack jokes and diplomatic settings, that that being okay, and just saying me.

Kathleen Shannon 17:59
But then I also wonder if you could have like, I could imagine you having that job and then being funny. I wonder what that would have been like the inverse of what you're doing now? Yeah. Like what it would have been like, not parallel world. But anyway,

Hannah Jewell 18:13
it's totally possible. If I got that other job. It's totally possible. And are you a real fast, real fast, and I've been like, that's fair. That's fair.

Emily Thompson 18:23
All right, I want to talk about writing this book, I would love to hear a little bit about the process of writing it because I imagine with 100 women from history in this book, a lot of research went into it. And because it was, you know, written, obviously, in a very new and different voice than probably any of these women have ever or any woman maybe that's ever been written about. There was a lot of like synthesizing that information into like how it is you wanted to tell those stories? So tell me a little bit about that process.

Hannah Jewell 18:52
Man, yeah, it was, it was a lot of research. And there was more time, I think, researching each woman than actually writing about each woman and I, I, because I learned how to, I just built the muscles required to be able to write them really quickly. For researching, there's definitely a very different levels of research throughout the book. And you can kind of tell when you're reading, you're like, Oh, I found like, one short article about this woman being the only thing that's been written about her and reading about that versus like, Oh, I read like the biographies, then I'm, like, so invested and, and the way that I synthesized was to hand write my research notes, because I felt like if I was gonna just type if I was gonna be copy pasting from articles for quotes and things, and it was gonna go overboard. So by handwriting in notebooks, I could only I limited myself to like a few pages of the key points that I wanted to hit with references to wherever I wanted to pull quotes from or whatever I was doing. And I just would go into the British Library in London, and you're only allowed to you know, let's take pens in there. You can order a bunch of books of the women I was reading about that day, pencil my notes in my little notebook and then go home. And I'm definitely like a creepy night writer. And after everyone's gone to bed, and then like, I was me and the cat in the house that I was staying, and at the time we just stay up while I would look at my notes, think like, what is the? What is the like, essence of what was impressive about this woman? Or what what was the anecdote from their life that I think, is surprising and expected for a woman of her time? Or a woman of today's time? Today's time? And yeah, that was a lot. And it was a very fearful process of like, what if there is a lot of stress about historiography and about the debates within history about, about the same things and knowing and my boyfriend's a historian professionally, and his friends who've become my friends over the last five something years, are people who study a specific thing incredibly deeply. And I was there trying to do the opposite of that of doing the whole world and all of time, in a shallow manner. And having to, I have really benefited from being able to reach out to them and and bless them. And they're all in my acknowledgments. And my margins are very long, because I got so much help from people where I was like, Here, I've written about a few women in the part of the world where the time that you study, can you a very serious, intelligent, genius, academic person, read this, and just make sure that I haven't missed the point, make sure that I haven't fallen into any traps, like some like someone who who checked my section on them on a Mexican nun, who is amazing for Juana. If you've got to her chapter yet. I he was like, Oh, you know, there's a lot of debate in the people who write about this time and place about not overly romanticizing the Aztec empire Empire, because I think I had made a sort of throwaway comment about how advanced in wondrous the civilization was in a way that was like, true, but also as sort of an old way of writing about something. So all these little traps that are everywhere, that I was just desperately like, emailing people to make sure that I was avoiding these things, not interpreting things that I'm way, simplifying things and ways that, that we're to simplifying even when I'm trying to write something that's between 502,000 words, per woman, and then, and then and then coming to terms with the fact that it couldn't be perfect. And this could never be perfect, I could never hit every single point or, or, and I just knew going into this, there's going to be, it's going to be something wrong in this and I'm just gonna have to deal with that. And, and learning to love my book as an imperfect thing. Which is to say, I've only had like, one like footnote that I know I'm going to delete and reprint says that's the only like, issue. But, uh, so yeah, it was it was the research was like crazy, and sometimes very stressful, but just the sheer amount of what I had to do in a short amount of time, but also made it easy to write to have so much material to draw from, for for most of the women, or a very little amount of information to draw from, and then having to fill in the blanks with like, some jokes. So which you can tell when you're going through the chapters when it's like, okay, I didn't have a lot of information here. Sometimes I would address that and be like, there's not a lot known there's debate about this. So let's just tell a story based on this assumption or that assumption.

Emily Thompson 23:41
So I'd like to know then, after going through all of that research, and handwriting all of those notes and all of those things, why this book, why was this the book that you wanted to write, and why 100 unknown women presented with great humor.

Hannah Jewell 23:58
I had always seen what I'd written about women in history, how joyfully, people reacted to learning about new women in history, as I felt in myself, whenever I have just out in the world heard about a woman I've never heard of whether it be a in a, in a random tweet, or in a weird Wikipedia spiral at night. And just knowing that there's a, there's so much satisfaction that I as a young woman got from learning about women who had overcome incredible odds to do amazing things and to do so without caring what people thought and just feeling there's so much inspiration to be taken from women like that. So I wanted to have this book and, and I wanted it to be an inspirational thing. And that's sort of probably a cliche thing, but but I know that's what a lot of the reaction has been to it. And with a political message inherent in it, that all of these women were defying, define norms of their day that are all unresolved To this day, and wanting to build a body of evidence that the women have not just only just started to be revolutionary and brilliant in their fields, and the first to do this, and the first to do that, I think that if you realize, oh, women have always been there, and women have always been incredible in so many different ways, in whichever way most relates to what you want to do in the world, then it just feels like oh, you realize that the problem is one of, of the historical records and of the way that has been shaped by millennia of patriarchy, and not about the problem isn't women themselves. The problem isn't that women have only just been like, oh, now I'm going to be scrappy. And I'm going to lean in. Not that I don't I definitely Yeah, lean in, in this book a lot in all caps. Usually, when a woman has just, you know, murdered someone to gain power. Which is, within that I like other than it being a fun thing to write. I also, in the times I referenced lean in this book is always to also critique the way that there's just so much pressure on women to be the like to, well, you can do anything with the right attitude. And it's just like, sometimes I just don't want to have the right attitude. I just want people around me to be less terrible. And, and that being like, yeah. So um, yeah, I wanted it to be accessible. And I wanted it to be fun, so that people actually would read it. And then my wonderous publisher also made it look very pretty. And that makes it a lot easier to read when there's a beautiful pastel, pink, or green or something on each page. And I had no idea that was going to look like this. And they sent me the proofs, and I just, let's go into this PDF, like, holy shit, look how beautiful it is, and showing it to people. So yeah, I want to secretly galvanized people in a political sense. And I think people sometimes celebrate women's history as if it were a political. But the women I chose in this book are not people like Margaret Thatcher, who appears in seminary, these books whose policies were just unquestionably bad for women. I wanted to hold my women to a higher standard isn't just a question of like, I'm a woman who succeeded against all odds, except for the ancient women who could just kill freely. And that was good enough for

Emily Thompson 27:31
me. Killed children and

Hannah Jewell 27:34
oh, yeah, they did. It was a different time. I definitely the more the more modern the the point. So I have this section called Women with impressive killcount that that I sometimes get asked about. And part of that the purpose of that section really is just to undo assumptions about women being dull style, women being unable or unwilling to take power and being too soft, and maternal and this and that, and the fact that, um, yeah, these are the women who would have, you know, worn the equivalent of 80s power suits. And they're doing

Emily Thompson 28:07
they were showing up and playing the game

Hannah Jewell 28:10
with their male counterparts. And it's just the thing that what is funny about this section is is is that it is unexpected, and that we celebrate and have statues commemorating men who are as murderous if not far more murderous than these women. So yeah, people really can take exception to that section. But I had a cut off of the Russian Revolution of the last time a woman was able to kill another woman, and be in my book in a way that is considered funny and harmless.

So yeah, I have a woman who assassinates Azhar. And after that, if they're all, I think blood free.

That's a thing I should know. Maybe not. Easter Rising constant. markovits definitely shot at some policemen. But it was unclear if the bullets hit but anyway.

Kathleen Shannon 29:02
Yeah, so I love that you say that you held your women to this standard. So I'm curious to hear like, did you have to whittle it down to 100? Were you grasping for 100? And then whenever it comes to the 100, have you noticed any patterns or themes of like what they all have in common?

Hannah Jewell 29:21
I think I was both whittling down and adding as I went along, adding women when I found one woman, one woman's story led to another is that I wasn't aware of before adding just by virtue of reading so much, and just coming across New names. Excuse me. And then whittling down when I found out that a woman, for instance, was the genesis or like wrote a love letter to Hitler and a lot of early social workers. It turns out women who on the surface of it you sort of read about you're like, wow, this woman made a birth control clinic in like, the 20s and 30s. And how amazing and then you look into it further, and you're like, Oh, they did Because they thought, like poor women shouldn't be allowed to have children and then believed in in a master race and wrote a love letter to Hitler. And so things like that I was whittling down, if someone Yeah, and, and adding and subtracting, and then selling on my 100, when I was just like there needs to be a line drawn at a certain point that needs to be done. Or just sort of running out of just not having the sources that I wanted to be able to do that, to be able to write about a woman confidently. What is the other part of your Oh, what they have in common? I think what they have in common is that they were all principled in some way, or another or ambitious. And this, this sounds like overly simplistic, but they did what they wanted to do. In the sense that they, they were, they were just doing what they were passionate about, and, and not doing what was expected of them. That sounds really like basic and cliche, but it was something that struck me so much while going through that if a woman wasn't you know, meant to be a pianist, but like, loved playing the fucking piano and such as did or women who were interested in astronomy these a lot of astronomers hear a lot I mean to and we're doing it because they they loved their work. And so that was a thing that I took away was that although the the title is she caused a riot, but that doesn't mean that they were all literally like causing riots in the streets. So somewhere. Some women were considered to be causing riots by having an opinion that they expressed, you know, in small ways, just doing the smallest things that might feel perfectly normal and acceptable, but were shocking in their day to, to the powers that be around them. So yeah, I think they also many of them had networks of women that they were within are benefiting from what Be it, other women in their field, other activists, other suffragists other abolitionists that they were consorting with and for instance, Ida B. Wells is in here. She's one of the better known women in my book. She had a huge network of abolitionists suffragists who were African Americans and who supported her publication, they basically held a big fundraising gala to publish her her book on on lynching, which was a huge work that defines the way that we study and think about lynching to this day. This was in the 1890s. And she had all sorts of women, in fact, at some who appear elsewhere in the book, who who turned out for this big fundraising event for her. Yeah, with the scientists with and and with writers writing to each other with like talking to other women, whenever women start talking to other women, you know, things happen. And so yes, that was the thing I absolutely was noticing throughout, and of course, what they all have in common was men being threatened by their power and women being threatened by their power and whoever was really invested in the norms of their day, being unhappy about what they were doing, be it like doing meth or fomenting revolution, with equal panic towards each type of activity. This being boss episode is brought to you by 20, where creative minds get authentic real world stock photos. Are you tired of coming across stock photos that misrepresent women's identity and truly lacking diversity? When looking for new content for your creative projects? 2020 lets you buy millions of authentic real world photos proven to increase the brand image of your business. And they have a very notorious or real women photo collection. Today they're offering listeners and being boss a five photo free trial to start yours right now go to 20 twenty.com slash being boss. That's where 20,000 to zero.com slash being boss to get five free photos.

Kathleen Shannon 34:15
I'm curious to hear Hannah, is there anyone in this book that is specially inspired you like if you have a patron saint of this book or you know, like one story that you really want to highlight that our listeners should hear about as well? What would that be? Or who would rather I

Hannah Jewell 34:34
think I usually get asked who my favorite woman is in the book and I can never really decide because I love them all equally, all my mother's my 100 mothers and there's some stories that I just love because they're so preposterous. But someone asked me just you know like a after a book event I did and a part. Somebody don't know that well was like, who do you have the most spiritual connection with like, Oh my god, I don't know. And so, and I think a story that I which when

Kathleen Shannon 35:05
in a past life,

Hannah Jewell 35:08
oh man, it's just, it's so hard because I really, I really carefully thought about who I wanted in each one I think the women I admire the most are the women in my section, which is women who punch Nazis, metaphorically, but also not and the women I chose in the section were women who really could have easily not done anything during World War Two and really could have easily stood by as genocide occurred, but instead risked their lives and often died because they were so aware of in justices that were not directed against them personally. But that sort of courage, I think, is the part of the book where I'm like, Okay, I will be serious here, obviously, and, and I think about them all the time. But for really a woman who I just like, if I could go and meet, maybe his way of thinking about it is Gladys Bentley, who, I mean, I mentioned Canada playing earlier, but she was a musician, and in the Harlem Renaissance, and in the 20s, and 30s, in New York was a drag King, who, I have a quote, I can read you. This is like a quote I keep thinking about. Because she was basically like, the piano player to so many of the great musicians who came out of that period. And the poet Langston Hughes, described how she performed. And he said, she could play the piano all night long, literally all night without stopping from 10 in the evening, until dawn, with scarcely a break between the notes sliding from one song to another. And I just like, the abandon of that is something that just, I would love, like, I would have loved to be there and see people just doing their craft and what they're passionate about. And she would wear these like white tuxedos, she broke all the rules of what was expected of a woman in her time. And, and I like my mom is a piano teacher, too. And so I have never quite learned to play with total abandon, but I because she's like a classical musician, and I, and I'm worse at jazz, because I'm like, but there's nothing set out. But every now and then when you get into a certain flow, and it's just the best feeling in the world. So I think she would like do these ridiculous, like, not a word play that she would just tell preposterous stories that were like, sexual and, and, and like, which actually kind of like seem like tame by today's standard. I was like, Wow, she sounds raunchy her, her, the police would shut down the club, she performed it and because of the immorality of what was happening there, but then I read what that was, and it was like she mentioned masturbation, and everyone's like, Oh, it's the 20s. And what's sad about her story is that as time went on, in the 50s, in the era of McCarthyism and the, the, you know, anti gay hysteria of the 50s, and she was a lesbian, she, she kind of retreated from her persona, she was always nostalgic for the way that she used to have this amazing menswear style, she may or may not have married a man having may or may not have married a woman before, not in a legal sense, having had a ceremony, and she kind of then disavowed her previous life of amazing white tuxedo top hat, jazz life. But she always Apparently, this is one where her story is a little murkier, towards the end, had kept a picture of the woman who she may or may not have married in her house for the rest of her life. But that was a story where you realize that we don't, it's easy to assume, oh, things just get more progressive, open minded, tolerant as time goes on. But that's really not a guarantee. And that that change only happens if there is active fighting against it. And societies can become more regressive as easily as they can come become more progressive. And that was also a big fascination. In my, in my Nazis chapter. How do these societies solve the fashion

Kathleen Shannon 39:23
of punching Nazis and freaking out about, you know, progression? And did that really give you some context or inspiration toward What's happening? Now? Did it give you I mean, in some ways, I would think like, Okay, this has always been a thing, you know, like it was never great. It was never perfect. It was. It's also getting better, but also maybe not like if you read what kind of context give you for today.

Hannah Jewell 39:54
I definitely am very fascinated by who does work. Does not resist bad things happening. And but more so than that, who finds ways to separate themselves from bad things. There's a one of the women has in my book because of this essay of hers, Dorothy Thompson was a journalist who used to broadcasts basically American propaganda radio shows into Nazi Germany. And she was really despised by the Nazis because of this. And she wrote an essay called, I think that I think it's called who goes Nazi? And it's about her being at a dinner party and looking at it around a room and in America in the 30s. And imagining, who would or wouldn't if the US were overrun with fascism? If it were, if it came down to it, if they were the way that France had been invaded, if that if Americans had to make those sorts of decisions? How do you know who and who wouldn't? Who wouldn't? wouldn't go Nazi. And she goes through and it's, it's about the how ways in which it's not as obvious as you might think, and everyone likes to think I would never have, you know, if I were there, I would have done this or that. And yeah, so I, what was the original question now? I'm just thinking about Dorothy Thompson. And he goes, Oh,

Kathleen Shannon 41:21
I love that you're going down that train of thought it was just like what it did? Did any studying any of these women give you some context for what's happening today?

Unknown Speaker 41:32
Okay. Yeah, you were there?

Hannah Jewell 41:33
Yeah, I think pretty simply, yes, it has, especially because people are there, you know, there's always the the rule in which people bring up Hitler at any given moment, or fascism and accusations of fascism being thrown around. So I was really interested in like, what can we learn about what is the cultural context, the sort of your average person, as opposed to political leaders who just sell out to wherever and, you know, those leaders who pretended to be great opponents of Trump and then were immediately turning up at his his overcooked steak dinner is begging to be part of his cabinet, I won't name names. Not so much that but at a more generic level of just your average person, and the way that things become normalized the way that the small slow steps of how societies can change over time. And I think it's a thing that people are really aware of, and are teaching themselves about right now, the ways that this has happened in the past, and there's always something to be learned from the past about the present in any of these areas. And yeah, it's, it's, I think about a lot.

Emily Thompson 42:47
When I would even talk about how this may have affected you personally, like, I can only imagine that diving into the lives and histories of all of these, like amazing women probably shifted the way you think about the world and maybe even move through it a little bit. And I think more pointedly has it helped you give less fucks?

Hannah Jewell 43:06
Yes, I think it has, I think I think it's been a it's changed, there were definitely, I mean, all all the women in this book die. In the end, there's no living women in this book. And I actually included the circumstances of their death a lot of the time, in a way they didn't even realize I was making a choice because because I think a lot of books like this, you're like, they did this and then they reached a career peak, when really there's a lot to learn about the ends of their lives. And if they ended up being ostracized, or, or whatever. So there it was, there's a lot of sadness in this book. And I because I, as I said, I right in the depths of the night, there was sort of like, sadly, like crying on the cat with my laptop. But I think that the, in terms of giving Fox, I think that the process of becoming confident enough to put a book into the world was my version of learning how to do that both being inspired by these women's stories, but also being just knowing that you know, if, if things don't go well, if something's not perfect, just like nobody dies. Unlike some of these women's work or their activism, their revolutionary fervor often led them to them to being killed and just like the the comfort that comes from like, I mean, you never know I'm gonna jinx it now. Knock on wood, but like, if I fuck up at my job, like nobody dies, so unless I really like put the worst video in the world, but somehow kill someone that is a nice comfort to hold on to and I think that I am a more chill person with that understanding that was a huge task like writing up a book that is 100,000 words long, knowing like I'm gonna get it done and just not to stress about it too much. And as a very Like stressy, you know, in high school, I was just like, if I don't get this score on this test, like, my life is ruined forever. And I think I've just sort of grown up enough to be like, it'll be fine. I just have to be me and trust in myself. And I probably won't kill anyone in the process. And that is such a blessing.

Unknown Speaker 45:20
Until I do. So

Kathleen Shannon 45:21
I have a question about like, the, the unknown aspect of these women. So you're highlighting a lot of women that many of us have never heard of. And our listeners are mostly creative entrepreneurs, or aspiring creatives. And I think that in this day and age with Instagram, and reality TV, I feel like this need for like recognition and attention and all the likes, goes hand in hand with the idea of success whenever it comes to doing the work. So I'm curious to hear your perspective on doing the work and doing great things. Even if at the end at the end of your death. Nobody really kind of knows who you are. Yeah. Oh, man. We're all gonna die alone. No, we're all going to die. My mantra,

Hannah Jewell 46:11
the thing where it was a Bridge to Terabithia where you're supposed to learn? No, no, what's the book where you just they drink from the well and live forever. And that turns out to be a bad thing. I'm mixing up my like middle school books, like everlasting tuck ever laughs

Emily Thompson 46:25
Yes.

Hannah Jewell 46:26
Yep. So living forever is bad. What I learned from that. But anyway, I think that, um, the thing that I learned not even as much from like the women in this book, but I learned so much. After being an intern at BuzzFeed, I was then the person who hired and trained the new generations of interns. And what I was doing that when I was hiring at BuzzFeed, I realized that the most important thing someone could do and show you in their resume was that they were already doing the thing that they were telling you they wanted to do. And women even just, they just had like, like, I have a beauty blog, or like, I review random like chicken restaurants around London, because I was hiring there. And seeing that, like they actually enjoy and love the thing. They do enough that they're just found a way to do it. And because it is 2018. And we can make videos on our phones, we can write and post it in places that can be seen anywhere. Anyone who just had a blog that they wrote, and regularly, you knew that they weren't bullshitting about wanting to be a writer. And that's the thing that I think I have sometimes, you know, fallen in the trap of being like, Well, why would I read a thing, it's like, no one's gonna see it. I'm just gonna put it here. But usually, I found without even like ever setting out to become a writer or an author. I was just always kind of doing it without thinking about it as something that it was adding up to anything. But it does add up. And I think that the women in this book, were interested not in being a famous woman of history, or someone who would be you know, forgotten unfairly. No one was like, well, that's not true. Some were interested in becoming legends for which they were very judge, there is a pilot, Jean batten who was a New Zealand pilot, she moved to London, her and her mom's goal was for her to become world famous. And she got a lot of shit for that people were like, She's so vain. She used to always wear great lipstick when she would arrive places. And so people suspected her motives in a way that like most great quote unquote, great men of history also imagined that they would become legends and go down in history. So women should that should be a goal.

Kathleen Shannon 48:43
here that haters Yeah, Hear that? Or you're leaving this shit comment? It's, it's just, yeah, it's not working.

Hannah Jewell 48:54
But I think the most important thing for like most of these women was that they were doing something because they loved to do it, like Gladys and piano or the activists in this book, or the writers in this book. And the scientist in this book, or the ancient merger says that this book who just brazenly wanted power, and we're willing to do whatever it took to get it. They were interested in in doing something as opposed to being something so there really isn't a way to you can't promise anyone they're going to get the recognition they deserve. But I think the best chance you have of getting the recognition you deserve is is that you're just doing the work. And you're just I knew I know, a person who was an intern who was really just really wanted to be like a great cultural writer and who, who really just had a vision of themselves. I'm avoiding gender anyway to identify this person, but just a friend of mine told this person you just need to act you need to spend less time imagining what you can become in a world Famous this or that, and a widely respected this or that and just do the work and just start a blog and just write every day, or whatever the creative thing they're doing is,

Kathleen Shannon 50:10
hey, I want to connect the dots really quick, because I don't know if you've noticed this whenever we asked you like, who you would want to hang with? And you said, Goddess, yeah, she just like played the piano. And you literally made the same motions for writing this book. And so like, I did not know. So there you go.

Hannah Jewell 50:37
Man, I just want to maybe I should just go to more jazz gigs. This is actually what I'm learning about myself. Right now, this is the thing that I used to do this all the time. And when I lived in San Francisco, but Okay, I'm gonna make it more apparent. This is very important to me. But it is fun. There's like a fun craziness. I mean, it's like a lot of the times so painful trying to eke out a word counts and just feels like you're pulling teeth with every single sentence. But there's also the times where you're like, look at me go. Like, this is so funny, laughing at my own jokes. And those moments are wonderful.

Emily Thompson 51:10
I think the feeling that I most wanted to cultivate from this conversation is this idea of creating with abandon, like just really getting into that flow and enjoying the process so much. And like, even if it's not literally the most dreamies thing you've ever done, like just letting yourself do the thing without worrying or overthinking or any of those things I feel like, and especially our listeners, because you know, they sell their creativity for a living, there's a lot riding on that cremation. There can be a lot of weight that's put on it and that abandon is tam danford. I guess danford is the word that offends dampened. Thank you.

Hannah Jewell 51:49
I think there was another word like tempered, tempered tamper. If that's not a word, you can just edit this part out. Or just keep it

Emily Thompson 52:00
real ongoing strong podcast with abandon, don't let anyone right. So abandon is definitely one of the things that I try to cultivate more of in my life, for sure, because so many of these women, it was it was abandon, for sure.

Hannah Jewell 52:16
And I end and being not trying too hard to be someone else and fit someone else's expectations. I think that I really loved when I I just saw I just started at the post in last August. And when I started the the managing editor, one of the managing editors here, Tracy grant, who's a wondrous woman sits everyone who's new down and says, Look, a mistake that a lot of people make when they start here is thinking that I have been hired by the Washington Post, and now I have to become a Washington Post reporter or salesperson or advertising person, or whatever the role is, and comes in, like, you know, where is it something a little more put together than they normally would or speaks in a different way. And when really, she's like, the reason we hired you all is to bring what you have here. And I was so into that I was like, even if that's just nice, a nice thing to say. I love that and it helps you. I think I was sort of looking around and I have an amazing colleague, Libby Casey, who is our on air politics host and she's been a broadcaster for years. And she's just like such a professional. She's such a pro. She knows what she's doing. She knows how to like everything from like, putting on like camera makeup within like eight seconds somehow. And then she is so clear and is the best and I was like oh my god, I need to be her right to like, mimic her voice and her everything and and then being like, well, out of love for her and as tribute to her. And I'm like, that's not me. Like I can't. I can pretend to be a little more serious. But I've but not that serious. And so, yeah, being being yourself as again, a thing that they put on the wall and a poster in preschool. But no one I don't think I really knew what that meant until quite recently. I think so.

Kathleen Shannon 53:57
I know. I feel like the older I get the more the cliches are really ringing so true. And I'm like, oh, everyone says that it is. It is like a lot like feeling it in your gut. Well, Hannah, thank you so much for joining us. Where can people find the book?

Hannah Jewell 54:14
Oh, man, you can find it at Barnes and Noble. You can find it on Amazon find in independent bookstores. If it's not there, and your local bookstore, go and ask for them to have it there. I'm actually about to move house to a neighborhood where the indie bookstore doesn't have my book and I'm like, I can't live here but I'm gonna go in and be like, if you stuff my book, I'll buy it. Yeah, online you can find me on Twitter and there's links there at hc jewel JW e Ll which is where I do most of my whining on a day to day basis so

Emily Thompson 54:51
awesome. And what makes you feel most Boss Man

Hannah Jewell 54:58
I'm in such a non boss. phase and not in a bad way. I think the moment that you feel a little too, like, I'm the boss of this place, I own everyone here, it's probably a good sign that you should make it like move to a bigger pond, or just. And so right now moving, I moved country I moved to a new job but a huge, intimidating newsroom. I'm like, most of the times where like, I'm at a boss right now I'm just learning from everyone. And like, that's fine. And I'm making a switch from writing to video. I'm just learning and absorbing, and kind of being a little more more timid. But I think that I've just been here long enough that I'm starting to feel like yeah, I nailed that interview, or like, Yeah, fuck you. I nailed that. And I think the thing that makes me feel badass, and I don't know if it's the bad thing or not, is being a little underestimated by someone. And then, and then kind of seeing how their perception of you changes once you have performed your job really well. And I had this with an interview recently, where I interviewed a screenwriter of a movie that I just thought was like, pretty racist. The movie is Beirut, I used to live in Lebanon and for a while and and I just thought this movie was full of cliches, and I had the chance to sit down with the screenwriter. And the insane the way his body language shift shifted throughout, like a 20 minute interview from being like, I'm a hotshot, like, you like millionaire, like hugely respected in Hollywood, or at least just like very prominent in Hollywood. And I'm just like, Hi, like, I'm a little girl. And then starting to question him about his choices and making this movie which is a movie which is set in Lebanon, the Civil War, but doesn't have any Lebanese actors in it and has a lot of stereotypes about Arabs and is I just sort of like Lenten to his discomfort a little and let there be silence silences. And after that, and like he was pissed at like, he was very nice to me after but the PR called and was like we expected a much lighter interview. And I'm like, Well, what like,

Unknown Speaker 57:00
why you made a movie about you?

Hannah Jewell 57:03
And I get it because it's like I do all kinds of work in many, much of it is very light. But But I came out of that being a sense of like, this guy hasn't been questioned in this way face to face before. He's been criticized for this movie. But he's not necessarily he's I think he is able to avoid it. Most of the time is a really prominent man in Hollywood in a bubble and getting to just sort of like prick it that that was like, I felt like a boss after that, that interview and I feel like even around the newsroom, some people who were like, Hey there, and I was like, that's right. I'm like, starting to do things here.

Kathleen Shannon 57:35
Yeah, I have a question about that, though. Like, I feel like whenever I call someone out, I end up feeling and this isn't my job as a journalist like you're so maybe you've built up this muscle, but then I almost end up feeling bad. Oh, yeah. Did you feel bad at all? Like, oh, man, I hope I didn't hurt that guy's feelings, but or not? Or like, how do you do you know, I'm talking about reconcile.

Hannah Jewell 57:58
I think this time, I think there's definitely been times when I have and especially like, even writing for my college paper, I wrote theater and arts reviews, and you're always being like, this person could have had a less terrible Irish accent, you're like, oh, there's making those those comments and, and feeling bad about that. But in this case, I didn't because this is a guy who just got paid millions of dollars to rewrite the last Star Wars and his wrote The Bourne trilogy is someone who has so much power and and who will be fine. You know, who's who's, who's that criticism is something that he might take on board and he might listen to the people around him more and think that you have to prepare for these kinds of questions. So with him as like that, like, he'll, he'll be fine, he'll be absolutely fine. This is a person with enormous power. Whereas if someone you know, if a if I was like, in my, when I was editing in terms of SEO, if one of them said something that was accidentally problematic in some way, I'm just like, always seem like you're be like, you're new. You didn't I had my like, undergrad at Berkeley like, like, experience of like, learning about the discourse. And like, just, I mean, I had an intern once who applied and wrote a thing about like, being a guy with like, only girlfriends, and it was like, and I read through this sample that he sent me that was all like, kind of just came off as him like hating women a little and it just like, wasn't and I and he asked me for feedback. And I was like, Oh, you really just like, we're to mean about women generally being to like shrieky this or that and the other. And what I love is that he he was like, and I what I explained was like people who know you and know it, he was he's like the loveliest boy who's ever lived. But people who read a thing like this might not know that you're wonderful person in real life. And he was like, oh, wow, you're right. I hadn't thought about that way. I was able to make edits to correct for that. And then I hired him for that reason, because He could take on board criticism, but without like the judgment of like calling him out, but he's just like a young guy and an intern who and that was his first job and yeah, versus people who were the power differential, especially between me and them is is vast. I just like think it's fine to yell up like, Hello, like,

Kathleen Shannon 1:00:22
yeah, there's even like this aspect of just owning it. You know, I think that I'm always like, I'm gonna say this thing. And I mean it. I hope I

Hannah Jewell 1:00:32
mean it. Yeah. I think it's, it's important to trust your gut with us things like that. But to be like, to be fair, and them and to be to be to be more like kind, even if they don't deserve it. And even with the piece that ended up getting me my book agent was making fun of some dudes, but they were literally the most powerful men in Britain. And for that reason, I didn't feel bad about making fun of their, you know, their way of being in the world. So it's always depends on the context.

Emily Thompson 1:01:06
Lovely. Thank you so much, Kathleen. I hope that put you to ease a bit. Yeah. Okay, Kathleen, you're gonna go on Twitter later and be like, the most fucked up?

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:18
No, I love it, Hannah. It was so great. Getting to chat with you. The book is fantastic. All of our listeners should pick it up. So it was so nice to meet you and to hear more about your process. Awesome. Thanks for being boss ladies and for talking to me. Hey, bosses, I want to tell you about the CEO day hit. The CEO day kit is 12 months of focus planning for your business in just one day. So Emily and I have packaged up the exact tools that we've been consistently using for years that have helped us grow from baby bosses to the CEOs of our own businesses. gain clarity, find focus, get momentum, prioritize your time, make better decisions and become more self reliant with the CEO day kit. Go to courses that being boss club to learn more and see if it's a fit for you and your business.

Emily Thompson 1:02:12
Thank you for listening to being boss. If you're looking for more help and being boss of your work in life accom check out our website where you can find Episode shownotes browser archives and access free resources like worksheets, trainings, quizzes and more. It's all at WWW dot being boss dot club. Do the work. Be boss