Elizabeth Entenman
June 11, 2019 8:03 am
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Random House, Getty Images

What do Busy Philipps, Priyanka Chopra, Taraji P. Henson, and Oprah all have in common? Yes, they’re all badass women. But they also all read theSkimm, the insanely popular daily morning newsletter that explains what you need to know about important news stories and world events. Now, theSkimm is branching out in an even bigger way: co-founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg wrote a book, and it may be your new go-to resource for all things adulting.

How to Skimm Your Life breaks down what you need to know about life, from how to network to what kitchen items every adult should own and what the heck thread count is. Readers of theSkimm will recognize its no-nonsense approach to telling you exactly what you need to know to help you live a smarter life.

We spoke with Zakin and Weisberg about their new book, how millennial women consume news, and how to combat the very real problem of burnout.

HelloGiggles: How did you decide what to cover in the book?

Danielle Weisberg: Our goal with this is to create a membership to living smarter. We’re really inspired by our community of millennial women who are at all different stages in their lives and have in common that they’re balancing a ton of different things. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to answer some of these questions when it comes to news and civic engagement. We’ve also been fortunate enough to get to know these women and to understand and hear what their day-to-days look like. We really took a step back and thought about, “What do we all need to know, and don’t have enough time to tackle?” Those are the categories we put into the book. It’s sourced by things that Carly and I learned that we needed to learn, and also things that our team and our community felt were important. We put it out there that this is a hard thing to master, and we’re going to work through it.

HG: I feel like millennials lack a certain knowledge about “simple” life tasks. Why do you think there’s such a need for this book among people in our age group?

Carly Zakin: I don’t want to generalize our generation over others. But I will say, one thing we’ve found is that, specifically two of the sections—Skimm Money and Skimm MBA—those sections were based off of the questions we were hearing within our own community, questions that we ourselves had. We saw that, specifically in finance, there is a big disconnect between the amount of time that we’re all thinking about our finances and how confident we feel making decisions in this area. These are all doors that were opening for us to really make it easier to be smarter in those specific areas. It all comes down to, “We’re all in the same boat trying to figure it out.” Not all of us are fully confident in each of these categories. That’s also why we’re just so excited to finally be able to put this out.

HG: In addition to Skimm Money and Skimm MBA, are there any other areas you noticed that particularly confuse millennials?

DW: One area that we definitely have needed to have some extra help with over the years is the de-stressing part. As a group, we can all do better about having more perspective, making more time to take a step back—it’s really hard to do that. I think that’s an area where sometimes, simple tricks are what make all the difference.

HG: Did you learn anything surprising while you were researching and writing?

CZ: I wouldn’t say surprised; I think more “aha” moments of, “Oh my gosh. I wish I had known this when I got my first job.” Whether it’s digging into how to fill out your W-2 form or how to even talk to financial advisors—you hear people talk all the time about, “Get a financial advisor! Start saving this way!” No one ever tells you, “Here are the questions you should ask to find out if you’re performing well,” or how to empower yourself in those conversations. We both learned a lot in doing those sections and talking to the experts in the field.

HG: You write: “Sometimes it can feel like a competition for who’s more overscheduled.” Why do you think so many people brag about things like stress and burnout?

DW: It’s funny, we were just talking about how burnout was just classified as a legitimate disorder. I think we’ve all felt that for years at different points in time. I think there are a lot of reasons. One that probably doesn’t help is that we’re so connected now. Every single second of every single day, you can be getting more and more and more information. Taking a break and taking a step back, even from your devices, has to be something that you actively think about. And that’s different than previous generations.

We need to, as a generation, learn how to collectively take a step back and to recognize that burnout can look different and come in a lot of different ways. There are different techniques to combat it. I also think that something that we see throughout is there are some themes that are not talked about as much as they should be. Money is definitely one of them. Negotiating a salary, negotiating a raise, thinking about how to interview and how to network. When is it time to take a step back? When do you know you need a break? Sometimes, it’s helpful to hear someone else have these questions and go through it with you. Those are the themes that we tried to point out as we put the book together.

HG: What have you learned about millennial women’s news consumption habits from running theSkimm?

CZ: That’s a great question. One, we are millennial women. Being a part of that audience certainly helps in thinking about our own behaviors and routines. We’re all always on the go. We’re always looking to make sure that our time is well spent. That doesn’t mean it’s, “what’s the fastest way you can do something?” because you still want to get the quality out of something. That’s been our guiding principle in our product strategy—thinking about, “where is our audience? How do we meet them where they are? And how can we make sure that this experience will be time well spent?” We’ve done that with our audio products; we’ve done that with our calendar integration in our premium app, which integrates directly into your calendar; we’ve done that with our videos on social, knowing that you won’t have the volume up and making sure that we caption all of them. Really, just thinking about how it’s time well spent. That’s been our guiding principle since day one.

HG: What’s your favorite book that you’ve read lately?

DW: I just finished Elin Hilderbrand’s Summer of ’69 that’s coming out shortly.

CZ: I just read The Silent Patient, which is a crazy good thriller with a surprising ending. And I also just finished Valerie Jarrett’s book because we just had her on our podcast. It’s a great read.

How to Skimm Your Life is available wherever books are sold.

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