I first met the lovely Valerie Stachurski when I had decided to get serious about making a career and living from blogging and freelance writing. I had no idea how to do this.
Valerie Stachurski was another blogger new to the Toronto scene so I asked her and a bunch of bloggers I admired out to brunch. Since both of our humble beginnings three years ago, I am so proud to have seen Valerie evolve from a blogger to now the Director and Founder of her own Toronto-based public relations, social media and marketing consulting agency, Charming Media.
How did you get started in your field and what made you choose your career?
I more or less fell into the position. I moved to Toronto 4 years ago with an English degree and knowing absolutely no one. I started a blog, I’m Charming You to chronicle my experiences and I developed a great network of contacts and friends from various industries. I learned a lot about marketing, social media and PR and eventually, people and companies started asking me for advice and my time to consult with them on how to improve their own businesses using these methods. I incorporated Charming Media in May 2012 and we are now working with so many incredible clients. I feel blessed.
It’s so easy to get sucked into working all the time when you work for yourself. How do you maintain a good work/life balance?
It is VERY difficult especially when your work is computer based. While most people go on Facebook or Twitter or read blogs in their spare time, I am using these platforms all day everyday, so it can be really hard to break away from my computer and just enjoy time away from work. Also, being the boss and owner means that you want to be there for your clients at all hours of the day, seven days a week. You eventually have to teach yourself that not taking at least one day off a week is counterproductive to your entire work performance and your happiness.
What do you do to de-stress?
I take my dog out for a walk and give him some of my time and love. I think pets play a very crucial role in keeping people calm, sane and happy. I also try to meet up with a good friend at least once or twice a week, just to put my phone away and enjoy the conversation and company of another person.
I also like to reorganize my closet while drinking red wine and listening to music. I know that’s weird 🙂
I always end up putting the gym last on my to-do list. How do you keep active and stay in shape?
Working with a personal trainer has been an absolute GOD SEND. Since starting Charming Media, I have put my personal health on the back burner and you just can’t do that. I am working with some of Toronto’s top trainers at Fitfix. They really hold me accountable for my training. You can’t miss a class with a trainer so setting those appointments and coming in twice a week keeps you going. Also, bi-weekly weigh-ins can keep you on track. A personal trainer will also push you to work out on your own time. They can usually tell when I’ve been slacking and I love that they give me grief.
What’s it like working for yourself? Any myths to de-bunk?
It’s extremely tough but it is also amazing. I love that I have the final say on all decisions, even the little things like the company web design, office location, etc. It’s all these aspects that have helped me have a sense of true ownership over what I am doing. And everyday I feel like I am building something that I can be proud of.
What was the most important non-negotiable thing for you when designing your lifestyle and work life?
I’m pretty easy going, to be honest. I can’t stand strict structure so I think that’s why I’ve always had a really hard time working for other people. I guess, the most important and non-negotiable thing when designing my lifestyle and work life is that I am the decision-maker for all things in my life at the end of the day. I can’t see myself working this hard for someone else’s dream.
What is the typical day like in the life of Valerie Stachurski?
I get up and walk to my office (I made sure our office location was within a 5 minute walk of where I live). I open my computer, check emails, catch up on everything that needs to be done, be it content calendars, media pitches, social media updating, event planning or blogging. I chat with my employee, Chelsea, about her tasks and what needs to be done.
Throughout the week I usually have 1-2 media events to attend, but if not, I go home, work out, walk my dog, cook something nice and just relax. I’m really a homebody.
Best piece of life advice to share?
I’m a hot head so because of that, I know I’ve probably burned bridges with people who would make valuable contacts in the future. As I grow up and mature, I’ve learned that when someone gets on my nerves it’s important to be smart with your reactions, especially when using social media platforms. As they say, the Internet is written in ink. How you feel today is not how you will feel in a day, a week, a month or a year. But how you react to situations will stay with you forever.
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