Alexandra Franzen has been a professional writer for about 10 years, writing articles about creativity, productivity, communication, goal-setting, entrepreneurship, and how to deal with difficult situations in your life and career. Her work has been featured in places like Time, Forbes, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and Lifehacker. Additionally, she’s been mentioned in places like You’re The Boss! The New York Times Small Business Blog, The Atlantic, and Inc.
Her newest projects are You’re Going to Survive, a collection of true stories about tough, scary stuff and how to get through it, and a novel called So This Is The End, which was recently optioned to be turned into a screenplay.
1. What are three words that best describe you?
Imaginative. Encouraging. Compassionate.
(PS. My boyfriend Brandon says the three words should be: “Heart. Hot. Sweet.” Haha! Thanks, Brandon!)
2. Tell us why you’re awesome in two sentences or less.
I am really good at convincing people to write, make art, and complete all kinds of creative projects… to really do it, not just wish and dream about it. Plus I have pretty awesome hair.
3. What are your three biggest indulgences?
Massages. (Especially foot massages!)
Stroopwafel cookies. I have a stockpile in my cupboard.
4. What’s currently your favorite…
Restaurant: Bamboo Sushi and Poke Mon in Portland. I love raw fish! I think I must be part mermaid, or part shark. And of course HunnyMilk, the brunch restaurant that I started along with my sweetheart, Brandon. I worked there with him every week for almost 2 years, and then I stepped away so he could run the show on his own. Nowadays, I swing by occasionally as a “customer” and I get to watch him and his team work their magic, which is so fun!
Food: I am always stoked to dive into a big, fancy salad with mixed greens, avocado, berries, apples, candied pecans, crumbled blue cheese, and all that jazz. I also love toast with almond butter and sliced bananas—that’s my breakfast almost every morning. But my all-time favorite meal is definitely a cheeseburger. Medium rare. Pretzel bun. Sharp cheddar. Pickled onions. Crisp lettuce. Garlic aioli. Yup. I will be in heaven.
Cocktail: I recently learned how to make a classic Old Fashioned. It’s the best!
Shopping destination/store: There’s a clothing store in Portland called Sloan that I love. It’s one of those places where I know for sure, without a doubt, I will walk out with at least one or two pieces that I totally love. One time I even found two (not one, but two!) pairs of jeans that fit perfectly which is basically a goddamn miracle for me.
Fashion item: I recently got a vintage, slightly faded jean jacket from Buffalo Exchange. It’s really lightweight, soft, and just a tiny bit stretchy. I’ve been wearing it with everything!
Place to hangout: My bath tub. I have a wooden tray where I can rest my book, candles, soap, and a glass of red wine. I can happily soak until my entire body is a shriveled raisin.
City: Hilo, Hawaii. I feel amazing when I’m in Hawaii, and I’ve fallen in love with the sweet little town of Hilo on the Big Island. I’d love to spend 1/2 the year there, and possibly even own a home there. I am working on that plan.
Travel item: I love Cactus Water face wipes. I always feel grimy after a long flight. They’re so refreshing!
Beauty product: I love this blush from Too Faced because it’s rosy and shimmery and it comes in a heart-shaped container. It makes me smile whenever I see it.
Skincare product: My dermatologist prescribed Retin-A cream for me and it has seriously changed my skin. I used to get mild breakouts and rosacea flare ups—not horrible, but bad enough that it annoyed me—and now I almost never do.
Hostess gift: I feel like you can’t go wrong with a handwritten note and some flowers. Although recently, we visited my boyfriend’s sister and I completely forgot to get her a gift! We arrived at her home empty-handed and I was quite ashamed. But I popped a “thank you” card into the mail right after we left, so hopefully my reputation is intact.
Home décor item: I love fancy candles. They’re one of those things that I rarely buy for myself because it feels “so extravagant” but really, what am I waiting for? Note to self: more candles.
Book: I’ve been reading the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. For anybody who loves Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and other fantasy stories, you’ll love this. It’s got a badass female heroine—and lots of shocking twists! For nonfiction, My Life As a Daymaker by David Wagner is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a simple book with a simple message: small actions can make someone’s day, or even change their entire life. We’re all more influential than we think.
Website: I love Brit+Co. It’s colorful, upbeat, and inspiring, and they always share beautiful tips on writing, cooking, crafting, hair, makeup, all kinds of creative projects. If you need a 10-minute break from the violence and horror in the world, Brit+Co is a great site to bookmark.
Magazine: I mean, is there anything better than O: The Oprah Magazine?
5. What’s the ONE thing you absolutely can’t live without?
COFFEE. Dark roast, specifically.
6. What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is when people choose to be careless and cruel to one another. Especially on the Internet. For example, whenever I see a flaming, acid-filled, intensely cruel blog comment or Yelp review, I always think, “Seriously? Someone took time out of their busy day to post… that? Was that truly necessary?”
I wish we’d all take 10 deep breaths before hitting “publish” or “send” or “post.” We forget, sometimes, that when we type words into an Internet box, eventually, those words are going to reach an actual person with actual feelings—a mom, a dad, a daughter, a son, a hardworking business owner or customer service rep who’s trying their best to get through the day, just like anybody else.
7. If you could have dinner with anyone (living or not) who would it be, and WHY?
Oscar Wilde because he would be the MOST fun dinner companion, obviously.
8. What does it mean to you to have a strong, engaging brand and how has having one helped you?
I’ve been writing professionally and getting work published for about twelve years. I’ve been self-employed for almost eight years.
My work has definitely evolved a lot over that span of time. But throughout it all, I think (at least, I like to think) that I’ve consistently provided encouragement, positivity, creativity, a spirit of simplicity, and a “You can really do this” attitude.
Whether it’s writing a book, starting a business, or running a 10K race, I try to leave my readers (and clients) feeling like, “Yes! I can do this. I am strong and competent. This is doable.”
How has it helped? By magnetizing the right types of clients and opportunities, for sure. My clients are the best people! Enthusiastic, generous, kind, excited to work on meaningful projects. Over the last eight years, I think I’ve had maybe two three clients who were totally not a good fit. Just a tiny handful. But overall, I’ve been blessed with seriously amazing people.
9. What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
Hire an accountant and tax preparer RIGHT AWAY. Don’t wait. You will save yourself tons of drama and confusion.
Leave room in your life for spontaneity. Don’t keep things so tightly scheduled.
Also, don’t hold onto anything too tightly—projects, relationships, job titles, or identities. For example, you might fall in love with a man even though you were 100% certain you were a lesbian. Or vice versa. Life can be very surprising. People can be full of surprises, too. Nobody really knows what’s coming in the future. Stay loose and curious.
10. What is one piece of advice you would give to women today about staying true to themselves and succeeding on their own terms?
There’s a study that was floating around the Internet awhile back. A group of men were given a math test. A group of women were given the exact same math test. Afterward, researchers asked each group, “So, how do you think you did?”
On average, the men said, “Pretty good. I probably got 8 out of 10 right.”
On average, the women said, “Oh, I don’t know. Not so great. Maybe 6 out of 10 right.”
When the researchers tabulated the results, they found that both men and women performed the same: about 7 out of 10 right, on average. However, the men tended to overestimate their knowledge, while the women tended to underestimate their knowledge.
I’ve never forgotten this.
Ladies: the next time you’re feeling uncertain about your intelligence, your creativity, your courage, your competence, please remember that you are probably underestimating yourself by, oh, about 10-20%. Maybe even more.
You are smarter, stronger, and more qualified than you think.
1. Purify Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes
Coconut water infused natural towelettes gently cleanse your face while removing toxins, oil, pollutants and make-up from your skin without water.
2. Too Faced Sweethearts Blush
A baked heart-shaped blush that contains three individual color swatches that blend beautifully for a gorgeously wearable, universally flattering peachy shade.
You can purchase Alex’s newest book, You’re Going to Survive, right here.