Member of The Week - Lana Burgess

Introducing Lana Burgess - writer, director of Brighton Digital Women and all round hot-shot lady legend!

So Lana, we’re very intrigued about Brighton Digital Women. Can you tell us a bit about the ethos of the company?

So Brighton Digital Women is a non-profit company. We originally started off as a monthly meet-up a couple of years ago and we soon discovered that there was a real audience for the events we were putting on. These events create an inclusive space for people working in digital marketing to network, share experiences and learn new skills with the underlying aim to increase women's representation in digital marketing. But we are completely inclusive; we actively encourage people of all genders to come to our events as we think this is a cause we should all work together on. We’re very conscious that we don’t want to place any blame or alienate men; we want to include everyone in working towards our cause.

I hear you guys just won a sussex digital award? How was that as an experience?

It was completely unexpected. We came silver in the small business website category and it was testament to the amount of work that both we’ve put in but also our community has put in. Our website is very much a community space. We have a number of different writers from our community contributing content. We won it just as we were incorporating, so we’d only just become a company at that point. To win a small business website award was amazing.

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Can you remember the first thing of note you ever wrote?

There are two things; there’s the first thing I ever remember writing then there’s the first thing I’ve had published.

The first thing I remember writing was a detective novel as a child which was very noir and melodramatic, especially for an 8 or 9 year old. 
 

The first thing I had published was an article in Computer Weekly. It was a piece about Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer. I was really proud to have that published in Computer Weekly as it’s a great publication. 

Who are your fictional idols?

I’d probably say Princess Leia. Both the fictional character and the actress Carrie Fisher. Princess Leia  is a strong, empowered character and she takes the lead in a lot of the plot lines. I think Carrie Fisher embodies the values of that character. I particularly admire how outspoken she was about her own mental health issues. It’s really important for people to be honest and open about things they have experienced as it reduces stigma and gives others permission to share their own mental health struggles. 

Last year you held the title of queen of late night office stints - what are your keys to maintaining a healthy work/life balance?

Last year I went freelance and I took the leap without any clients which was a bit ridiculous and slightly risky. But I was turning 30 and it felt like a good time to go for it. But as a result I said yes to all of the projects that came my way. I rapidly became fully booked and took on some awesome clients who I’m still working with today but it was a very very intense time. Whilst it was liberating working for myself I was a much harder taskmaster than most bosses. I didn’t take breaks and worked into the night and was not doing the basic things I needed to be doing. So this christmas I had some serious words with myself and I took 2 full weeks off. I decided I had to put my well-being first.

What would you say to your 15 year old self?

I would tell her to always know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and to try to have faith that no matter how dark things seem at one point, things will always improve. I would also tell myself to never stop exercising; to view it as as important as eating or drinking or breathing. For me that’s a key thing to staying well and happy is being active and moving.

What is your most treasured possession?

I think it’s my diary or rather my series of diaries that I’ve been keeping since I was nine. They are a record of my thoughts and development as a person. I think journaling, writing a diary is really really important to help you learn more about yourself. 
 

It helps to externalise things on paper; it’s a cathartic process. Also it means that if you read it back, over time you can come to understand things and gain clarity over things you might not have understood at the time.

If you had Bernard’s watch (in case you haven’t seen the show Bernard had a watch that froze time) what would you do?

If I had all the time in the world I would do a lot more reading and learning. I’m one of these people who never has enough time to fully investigate all of my interests. One minute I want to read various works of philosophy, another minute I want to learn German or learn the guitar or rediscover my singing or start painting again. So if i could freely use time I would indulge in all those hobbies that are nothing to do with making money and being an adult!

Is there a particular quote from any piece of literature that remains pertinent for you?

‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ - It’s really simple but it captures the idea that well-being needs to come before you try to do anything else. Before you try to build a business or build a relationship with your partner or friends you need to fill  up your own cup and love yourself and do whatever self-care activity re-energises you. 

 

Some thoughtful and inspirational answers, thank you Lana!

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