Hello and welcome to week two of The Ambition Series. Each week I am interviewing an influential and extremely successful female and quizzing her about her thoughts on ambition and what it means to her. Last week I interviewed the lovely Emma Conway, who writes the award winning Brummy Mummy of 2 so if you missed that then go ahead and check it out here.
This week, I’m fairly sure that my guest needs no introduction especially if you are a blogger yourself. For those of you who don’t know and have been hiding under a rock then let me introduce Vicki Psarias, who is something akin to blogging royalty with her critically acclaimed lifestyle and parenting blog Honest Mum.
Not only has Vicki won the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Outstanding (‘Best of the Best’) award and Best Social Media award in 2016 but Honest Mum has also been listed in the top 5% of all blogs worldwide. As well as being a devoted Mama to her two boys, Vicki somehow manages to combine her passion for blogging with a multi-award winning career as a screenwriter and director. Featured regularly on the television and having worked with huge household brands and famous faces, Vicki is an ambitious female with some serious get up and go. Despite all of this success, Vicki is also open, funny and warm. She has a knack of drawing you in and making you want to be her friend. The kind of friend you want to put on your dancing shoes with and hit the town for cocktails.
Engaging, motivating and endlessly creative – it was a real pleasure to chat with Vicki and pick her brains about what drives her, how she has managed to forge such a successful career and what ambition means to her.
I’ve heard you speak about your own success in blogging and in building an online empire in a very unapologetic way, which I think is fantastic. What sort of reaction do you find this elicits from other women though? If it’s negative, how do you deal with that?
Have I used the words, ‘building an online empire’?! Ha, I don’t remember using that turn of phrase but yes please a million times, that would be awesome!
I find it hugely inspiring to read and hear others speak openly and candidly about their dreams and importantly, their journeys. The A to B. It’s crucial people hear statements like this in context though. It’s so easy to see results and what can sometimes seem like relentless success, yet few highlight the graft and time it takes to hit those much worked for milestones (usually because we’re too busy spending time grafting!)
Success and the definition of it, is personal too. Happiness and health come first of course and to me, working a three day week, something I’ve achieved in the last few months thanks to expansion and having management represent me, really means I’m reaching a mode of working I’ve worked hard to get to! To be with my kids, to feel free, creatively and to work remotely is so empowering. Not sure I’ve ever felt happier.
Regarding negativity, I’m a tough cookie really having worked in the film industry since I was 21 after gaining a distinction in my MA. I won’t ever be ruthless or unfair to others. If someone treats me badly, I walk away and don’t look back. I think that’s the key to successful living generally, being careful about who you give time and energy to. Trusting your gut.
I focus on the positive always. I do my thing and live by the premise of, ‘I’ll do me, you do you’.
I’m so lucky to have so many incredible, strong people around me and never take that for granted – they help combat negativity and keep me on track. Particularly my husband who is my rock. If I get upset about petty things, he sorts my head out. My manager Neil at Insanity too is brilliant. He helps me feel confident and strong. I don’t sweat the small stuff these days either. I’ve lost friends to cancer and accidents in the last few years, which devastated me and made me realise what truly matters. I just want to grab life by the horns and go for it all, you know in a meaningful way. I love working with the charities I do and helping others in any way I can.
What drives you to get out of bed every day and push your career onwards and upwards instead of being happy with the status quo?
I’m so happy with my status quo to be honest and I think therein lies the power in some respect, the power that comes with feeling right where I want to be. To be happy with all that I have- so anything else is simply a cherry on top.
I have dreams, big empty boxes on to-do lists I want to tick but if none of those things materialise and I keep going as I am, I’m cool with what I have right now: a beautiful family, a husband I’m crazy in love with, good health and a job I adore. As long as I’m creative, I’m content. I can’t NOT write or make films. I can’t not create whether that’s cooking up recipes in my kitchen or writing a screenplay. It’s not a choice, it’s a need.
My kids are my purpose and drive me, I want them to always be secure, emotionally and financially. I want them to see their mama happy, doing what she loves. I want us to continue travelling, creating together and having fun. I’m definitely a fun mum I reckon (although maybe best to ask my kids) and there’s such a lot of laughter in this house.
That means everything to me. Laughter, music, dancing and food. What more do you need?
How do you juggle your career with raising a family? Have you had to reign in any ambition since starting a family or do you find you can still combine the two effectively?
I think motherhood has made me more ambitious, more driven in many ways, it’s also calmed me down a lot. I used to work 12-15 hours on set as a director and filmmaker and having Oliver in 2010 made me realise firstly that way of working was no longer possible and secondly, I don’t want to be away from my kids even for a night if I can help it. Blogging gave me a window, a lifeline to keep me creative in a way that let me work flexibly, around my family.
I never imagined it would become as popular as it has-and I try not to think of the numbers reading it because to me, it’s just really me at my laptop, the writer, sharing my life and loves. It’s crucial to think of your audience, of course but ultimately I ask myself before publishing, ‘Would I want to read this?’.
The juggle is real for all us working parents, my youngest is with me 2 days a week when I’m off and 3 days in nursery, my eldest is at school. My parents help and there’s babysitters for the odd date night. We make it work. I’m so strict on when I switch off too and whilst I look like I’m online a lot, I schedule posts on social media and am really brilliant at taking time out.
You write an incredibly successful blog, have won awards for your work and collaborated with some huge household names but how do you define “success” for yourself? At what point did you think “yes! I’ve made it!”
Gosh what a great question. I don’t think I ever, ever think I’ve made it. I do reflect on achievements every so often and remind myself especially when self-doubt rears it’s ugly head, on the things I’ve loved working on and I’ve achieved more than I ever deemed possible but yet I strive onwards, always as every day brings new goals and challenges.
I always thought I’d be a filmmaker forever and I still am in many respects, directing myself in campaigns with video being a huge part of my work but I see how flexible life and careers can be-how varied, stimulating and fluid working digitally is.
I look at what I do in a very open way which is exciting. There are no limits really. Thanks to the democratisation of the internet, everyone has a laptop and phone and can create, share and connect. I want to write and direct more projects for telly and film and I see everything complimenting each other.
How do you feel about other women who are streaming ahead and making a name for themselves in the same field as you?
It’s incredible- and to see so many gifted friends and colleagues shining makes me so proud. I feel lucky to be collaborating with these brilliant men and women and write a lot about the importance of sharing and working together, on my blog. I want to see more of this. It is how I always worked as a director and I love collaborating with bloggers and vloggers in my sector and across others. I have so many great blogging/PR friends who make work never feel like work!
Which ambitious women or indeed, men inspire you? What is it about them that you admire?
Too many to mention but the ones who stand out are: Oprah, Michelle Obama, Marie Forleo and JLO. Trailblazers, role models and ceiling- smashers. Coming back to your earlier question, if anyone mentions me in a sentence with any of these women, I will know I’ve made it!
Which three traits would you say were necessary as a woman who wants to achieve her ambitions?
Passion. Talent. Tenacity.
Vicki writes Honest Mum
A really massive thank you to Vicki for taking the time to answer these questions.
I hope that you found it as interesting as I did hearing from such a successful and ambitious woman and getting an insight into Vicki’s thoughts on ambition. I particularly found it relevant that she pointed out that success can appear to come easy for some but actually the reality of it is hard graft. Hearing that has inspired me to keep plugging away!
If you have any comments or questions for Vicki or myself then just drop them below in the comments box. If you are enjoying this series and know of others who would like it then please do give it a share across your social media 🙂
See you next week for my third interview!