Learnings from Anna Wintour’s MasterClass

Vogue’s editor-in-chief teaches creativity & leadership

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava 

Thanks to a Medium Writer, Master Class Notes, I was able to access the Masterclass classes free for a week before starting to pay. I felt like it was my chance to watch everything that I am interested in, and there was one class in particular that I was so curious about. I was intrigued by these classes for a long time, but I wasn’t sure if the price was worth it, so I kept postponing signing up. This was my sign.

I’ve done my MA in fashion journalism, so attending a class taught by Anna Wintour felt like a big deal, even if I am not her fan, ever since I’ve seen that class advertised I wanted to see it. Here are my learnings from Anna Wintour’s Creativity & Leadership MasterClass:

On starting out in the fashion industry

“Try different things — it’s almost more important to find out what you don’t like rather than what you do like.”- When it comes to your career, it’s important to know your goals, but that shouldn’t prevent you from experimenting. Sometimes the best way to discover what you want to do is by doing things you don’t want to do.

Learn. Watch. Work hard.– Think about how you can use your early jobs to diversify your skillset and build the confidence to take creative risks. Wintour says it is very essential to try and work for others in the begging rather than trying to make it on your own because you might find a leader to learn from.

Get off your phone and be inspired by the world- Simple as that.

Be daring and take risks– Act like no one is saying no, you need to decide on this one based on the context, though, Wintour seems to forget that some of us can’t afford to lose our job, but in at the right time, this can actually help your career.

Be thoughtful when you ask for help– Obviously do your own research before asking for help, be proactive, and don’t expect everything on a plate, at the same time you shouldn’t feel like you can’t ask your boss something (some The Devil Wears Prada there).

On building a fashion business

“Not everyone is going to agree with you.”– Once you accept this and resolve to stay true to your own vision, you can be a better leader and manager, according to Wintour.

Hire and build a great team-You are nothing without a good team,” she says. The key points in hiring a team are, diversity (different backgrounds, experiences, ages, and opinions), they cover some of your blind spots, finding a self-starter (someone who can make decisions on your behalf and who’s going to be a good ambassador) and consider their potential for longevity at your company so that you can invest in them.

Build a system for keeping track of your work– You’ll need a system for staying on top of things that works for you. Anna, for example, has the take-home bag. At the end of each day, the take-home bag is filled with a variety of things that need Anna’s feedback or approval, including the book, a mock-up of the issue that is currently in production.

Give feedback quickly and be direct– You don’t have time to waste, communicating efficiently with your team is key, so that any changes can be done before the deadline.

Don’t micromanage– You need to pay attention to the details and check your team’s works, but you need to let them make their own decisions while they work on something, give them space to create and produce and then give feedback.

Be thoughtful about how you run meetings and why- Don’t fill the day with meetings, every meeting should have a clear purpose that will improve or help the work that needs to be done.

These are my takeaways from this class, and I have to say the information is quite general, from how to start in the industry to how to be a leader and how a fashion magazine is run, a lot is covered, but that means the specifics are missing. I think this is a good class for people who are already working in the fashion industry, preferably in the media, for a glossy magazine or a luxury brand.

You can definitely learn something from Wintour, even if you are just starting out, I personally admire her way of imposing herself, from her iconic look to her routine and the way she works with her team.

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