Inspiring Figures is a monthly column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people that you should really know about.
You can find the whole list of my inspiring figures over on the shiny new website, InspiringFigures.co. Each feature first took place live on YouTube Live, this is a write-up of our conversation. Thank you once again to everyone that joined in live!
August 2020 features Georgie Cooke
Georgie Cooke is a blogger, health enthusiast and UI engineer from Sydney, Australia. She’s interested in minimalism, fashion and personal style as well as loves experiencing nature and travelling.
Georgie and I go way back! We first connected in the blogosphere when we were both writing embarrassing blog posts 😂
Last year during mine and Matt’s travel around Europe, we met up in Hamburg for the first time. You should read that post, it’s full of good vibes. I’ve been so excited to speak to her for Inspiring Figures! She has so many wonderful insights in tech and her interests too. I hope that you find her as inspiring as I did during our chat. ✨
Listen to our live conversation
Getting into Technology
The first time Georgie learned to code was on Neopets where she picked up HTML and CSS. She later discovered Freewebs where she enjoyed playing around and experimenting with what she could do with HTML and CSS.
Unsure what career path to take, she was initally keen on becoming a ballet dancer. The uncertainity in job security kept her from pursuing it, as well as the fact that she didn’t feel like she could dance forever. Georgie went around to explore her options. One thing she did was do work experience in an oral health centre to learn about dentistry. However, she was put off after learning about how long it would take to become an orthodontist…12 years. 😱
Coding was a hobby, and so she continued to improve her coding skills on the side. For example, designing and developing her blog’s themes and layouts herself. At University, Georgie went on to study a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, she described it as a lot of essay writing. 📝 During her studies, whilst she was looking for a part-time job, she had ended up finding roles in Front End Development. Off the back of that, she secured a few of her first small jobs which then inspired her to follow it as a potential career path. Today, she is an incredibly talented UI Engineer!
Diversity in Technology
“So I think this just like tech is, with being this like computers have always been seen as this man’s job boys joke kind of thing. And I didn’t realise this until like someone pointed it out. When you sit there in (computing) class, and there’s just so many boys and you don’t see anyone who kind of even looks like you and when you’re a woman and you kind of just get outnumbered like that.”
Georgie explains that even if no one says anything to you about being the “odd one out”, you sort of feel it internally. When speaking to other women in tech, she realised that these feelings are shared across the board. Sharing inspiring stories such as those shared on International Women’s Day or under those Women in Tech hashtags can help you not feel so alone in the space.
The best career advice
The best career advice that Georgie found that she got a lot of value from was, “focus on your own journey.” She likes this quite a lot because it applies to everything, not just your career.
“A lot of people compare themselves to other people. And there’s like a quote that says, ‘Don’t compare, like your level zero with someone else’s like level 100.’ Because it just doesn’t compare. And it’s when you put yourself in that position and compare yourself to someone else, you don’t realise your achievement.”
Georgie explained that there have been so many times in her life when a manager has reminded her of the progress that she’s made over the last few months. Often she hadn’t realised until someone pointed it out. This has also happened to those she has mentored.
“And so I think it’s important to remind people to always kind of focus on their own journey. Because then that also, like, not only does it make you realise your achievements, but it helps you motivate yourself. You’ll be focusing on what you’re doing rather than looking at what other people are doing. It can be overwhelming if you continue to also look at what other people are doing, especially in tech when everything’s moving really fast. But if you focus on what you’re doing, like, it’s just so much better!”
Personal Blogging at Hey Georgie
Georgie has been blogging for years – as I said earlier, this is where we first met many moons ago! When she was younger, she describes having her blog as like she had her own digital diary.
“I thought this was kind of cool because around that time, me and my friend were kind of reading each other’s diaries. Like we didn’t really care. When I came back to blogging and how it was like an online diary, I kind of drew some parallels and it was like, I could share some of my thoughts and stories with just like other people. Like, I didn’t think about how big the internet was, or the world.”
Over time her blog became a personal reflection tool. It became a place where she could go back and remember things that she had actually forgotten about. She shared that it is very valuable for her to have a log of her life. Understandably not for everybody but it really works for her. It is also a great opportunity to write and share with others.
“I think like one of the best things about sharing my thoughts and my experiences with people is that some people were actually able to relate to those things. I think that was like the first kind of mind-blowing and like just really heartwarming that they were just these strangers. Like on the other side of the world, who kind of understand how I was feeling as well, like so sometimes could be emotions of like, like maybe I was upset about something or stressed and by the time it was like, joyful was about like family or something like that. And that was just like really, like rewarding!”
With the rise of organisations and people seeing blogging as a marketing tool, Georgie openly shared that she doesn’t love this move towards “personal branding.” She had said that in a talk a couple of years ago that blogging is an opportunity to tell your story. She’s not trying to sell anything, her blog is literally just a place for her own thoughts.
Blogging from the heart has been a great motivator for her as well as the fact that she has been doing it for so long. Having the opportunity to share things with people such as topics she’s passionate about and making friends along the way has also been a rewarding part of blogging.
When I asked her if she saw herself blogging far in the future, Georgie joked about how she would be a grandma writing her blog posts. “I think writing is something that you can engage in at any age, like, whether you’re like 10, or like 30 or 50 or 70. Even if I probably didn’t keep a blog, maybe I’d be, I don’t know, continuing to write poetry or something else to continue using my voice kind of thing!”
Georgie recently released her new poetry collection “the off switch is broken”, check it out!
Advice for others starting a blog
Georgie shared some of her advice to those interested in starting their own blog.
- If you’re stuck on what to write about, search for some writing prompts – there are plenty out there online!
- Don’t be afraid to write about something you find interesting or personal stories
- Keep a list of ideas when they pop up – it’s OK if they’re not fully formed ideas
- Dedicate some time to sitting down and write. Start with 5 minutes of focus and see how far you can go!
Fashion Friday Series + Personal Style
“Fashion Friday” is a series on her blog that she first started in 2013. This is a place for her to express herself through her clothes and showcase the evolution of her personal style over time.
She first got the inspiration from her mom, who had always put in the effort to how she dresses and presents herself. Her mom had always sought out clothes that she liked to wear and by extension inspired Georgie to do the same.
As a result, since Georgie was younger she had always paid attention to how people expressed themselves in magazines for example. In her early teens, she began to explore what she could buy for herself. Georgie has never been one that followed trends! 👌🏻 Over time her personal style has evolved, in the early days, she had a bit of a punk rock style going on. Unlike other fashion bloggers, Georgie likes to talk through the choices that she’s made and they are never paid items that someone told her to wear. She’s very mindful on curating a wardrobe that she loves, so there will be items repeating!
When it comes to personal style, Georgie shared, “I think you have to kind of accept that personal style is something that changes over time. Some people go, ‘Oh yeah, I can wear this for years’ but I think what some people don’t realise is that like that totally has the potential to change over time like your body might change! This is something I’ve experienced as well. My body shape has changed. So some of the stuff that I used to like to wear I just can’t really wear out because it doesn’t suit me.”
Some of Georgie’s pointers on determining your personal style:
- Think about what you gravitate towards e.g. what colours do you love?
- Watch the whole bunch of YouTube videos on how to like figure out your personal style
Be mindful that although people have all these formulas, not everyone is the same and they don’t work for everybody. “On the internet, there’s going to be all these rules that you will try and then not agree with. They’re just rules. So the reason it’s personal is that it’s about you. So what it works for someone else isn’t going to work for yourself, necessarily.”
Getting into Fitness + body diversity
Before getting into fitness, Georgie didn’t think that exercise was a part of wellness. Growing up, she was not big on exercise, but she was fond of dancing.
She also had problems with eating. Looking back, she thinks was because she was surrounded by a lot of dancers who were slim. This pressured her into thinking that she wasn’t at all small enough. Even when she looked back, she was completely fine. “I saw exercise in the way of getting smaller and losing weight. And so I thought of running a lot, and just trying to move to like lose weight.”
In 2014, Georgie began her fitness journey. She didn’t have any goals but she felt like the more she went, the more she was learning. When she started lifting weights, she enjoyed how strong she had felt! 💪🏼 This was a huge motivation to keep her going. There were also improvements with her mental health that confirmed to her that exercise was definitely part of wellness.
“If you take care of your body, it will take care of you back!”
When it comes to fitness, it can be easy to compare someone else’s body and their journey with your own. Georgie explained that she has had to unfollow some people over the last few months. Mostly because of the lack of authenticity and realism in some influencer’s posts behind a photo of some abs. Instead, she’s been looking for folks with posts that help her with her own journey and improving body diversity on her feeds. Over time her mindset about achieving a body goal has changed to a more sustainable approach of being healthy overall.