Vivi is a marketer with a great reading habit. You'll find her firmly planted in the non-fiction aisle, devouring books on mindset, marketing and memoirs. Vivi is on Instagram mainly - her grid is a book lovers' paradise. The authors she talks about are diverse and brave, Trevor Noah, Helen Tupper, James Clear, Simon Sinek and Michelle Obama. We chat about why Vivi started The Cultured Marketer Reads, juggling motherhood, female leadership and the issues around productivity and hustle culture.
People can find you on Instagram via thecultured.life. It was your bio that got my attention…The phrase: inspiring creatives to make better friends with nonfiction books. So why did you kind of go for that? I obviously love that subject myself.
Vivi Koroma Kala 1:15
I am an avid book reader, I have read books from a very young age. And that's based on a few factors, from growing up in a book worm-ish family… My dad really fostered a love of learning and reading in myself and my brother. Long story short, it led me to study English and French literature at university. I was reading bucket loads of fiction books. And I do still love fiction, you know. I love the different genres within fiction too. I studied and I was literally eating books for breakfast at university, reading loads and loads. I hadn't yet encountered the nonfiction genre, and all that it brings.
So fast forward to when I graduated, and I was looking for a new career. I was quite lost, in that respect, I was talking to a friend, and we were actually in the library at that point. And they ventured me towards the nonfiction side of the library. The best bit, I can attest to that now! And I found that aspect and found the self help genre and business books. Books on psychology because I was interested in marketing, and marketing and psychology goes, you know, well together. So, that was how my love for nonfiction books started. And from then I discovered other genres such as memoirs, autobiographies, and learning through other people's lived experiences, which was fantastic. As a creative, sometimes you can be stuck for ideas or stuck… you know what I mean, you're creative yourself, you know, you're a great designer. So you do get stuck. And I believe reading books, not necessarily on creativity, but books around productivity even, can foster lifelong learning. Having discovered books like that really encouraged me, and I want to do the same for others and encourage them to, I say, become better friends with nonfiction books. I believe that we're all friends, to some extent, with nonfiction books, but hopefully, people can become better friends.
So it's funny, because we started geeking out on this subject quite naturally. You've touched on the nonfiction areas that you're interested in. You've been on Instagram, not that long with this new business, but you're obviously getting a sense of what people are starting to connect with. What are some of the main topics of nonfiction that people are gravitating towards?
Vivi Koroma Kala 8:13
Yeah, I am getting more of a sense. And I guess, even though I do have a business, you know, I'm a marketer, I also currently work with a company part time. This page for me was really an extension of my business, and building up what inspires me and giving other people that inspiration and through the many conversations I'm having with people on the DMs and in the comments. I'm finding people are interested in a lot of the memoirs, because I've posted about reading Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming.
I've got that I've not tackled it yet,
Vivi Koroma Kala 9:08
flick it open.
It’s in the pile
Vivi Koroma Kala 9:21
It's just finding the time, isn't it? Too many books? Not enough time. So I posted something about her memoir, and a lot of people resonated with it. Not only did she have the memoir, she had the Netflix series and has a podcast now. And it's just inspiring to glean encouragement from her story. You know, prior to reaching the White House, obviously, her prolific husband, inevitably it’s a huge shadow, but she's still champions through all of this. It's just an inspirational story… And I think some of my book friends on the page really resonate with the memoirs
Really interesting. So I'll slightly sidetrack the conversation… because obviously, we're thinking about courage, confidence, transition, and those types of things. Would you say, there’s a textbook you're recommending that enables people to get more of that?
Vivi Koroma Kala 14:02
Yeah, definitely. It's quite diverse, the books that I recommend, but I recently did a book review on The squiggly career.
Vivi did this fantastic post. I need to see what's in this book pile. And that title just absolutely grabbed my attention, because I was like, ‘That has been my backstory.’ Tell me all about this book?
Vivi Koroma Kala 14:45
I have it. It's actually authored by two women, Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis. And basically, we all know that things are changing. And I think with the global pandemic, and human rights issues coming forward in this world, it's a different climate. And so the world of work isn't necessarily how it used to be, a rigid staircase to climb up on. Or a ladder that has a top rung, which means you've made it…
The baby boomers, I think, have that mindset with a career ladder.
Vivi Koroma Kala 15:49
I think the word of the day is priorities - where priorities change. And we can often find ourselves in a squiggly career. Where we're pivoting, we're changing our career goals, we're backtracking, taking an internship at 35, in order to try something new. And we're taking on different opportunities. And so this book encourages people to embrace the squiggle. Not to see it as something that needs to be linear, I need to be on this path to success. A path to success looks different for everybody.
It's about, revisiting your priorities, and they kind of separate it into five different things and your super strengths. So they encourage you. I think this is a great book for people beginning. They encourage you to look at your super strengths. What you're really good at, and your values. What is important to you, not thinking about career as such, but as a person, what do you value the most? Then it also talks about confidence, and building up your confidence. Especially now, I feel as if sometimes it's happened to me… having a crisis of confidence where I don't necessarily know if it's this whole imposter syndrome? You don't know whether you're good enough to speak up, or you're good enough to go for that role. Or, you're just basically talking yourself out of your own potential.
You have hit on something. And the squiggly career ties into that. I think the most important thing in terms of career choice now… adaptability feels like it’s the core thing that people need to cultivate. More so than just a whole bunch of acquired knowledge and learning, like learning is important and knowledge is important, but it's not necessarily having this bank of knowledge on a specific subject.
Vivi Koroma Kala 19:32
Yeah, absolutely. And another thing that they talk about is the value of networks and how you don't have to be an extrovert to be good at networking, you know.
Awesome. I love it. So, um, there's a couple of other books I wanted to dive into. There's an absolute classic. I mean, he's been around for an awfully long time, but the godfather of modern marketing, Seth Godin. And This is Marketing.
Vivi Koroma Kala 23:32
Yeah. This is Marketing.
So why did you enjoy that?
Vivi Koroma Kala 23:40
This book, I mean, the title alone, This is Marketing, but it also has a little strap line that says ‘you can't be seen until you learn to see.’ And literally, it just taps into the golden rule: treat other people like you want to be treated, seek to understand before you're understood, all of that, that's super important to me. He literally flips the idea of marketing on its head. And talks about this new way to market. He goes on about, this whole thing about helping others. Understanding others' needs and that's the key. There's a quote I've posted on my page as well, which compares a marketer to a farmer and cultivating. Really looking after and weeding things out. Looking after the crop. I would recommend this for anyone, you don't particularly need to be a marketer either. But to learn more about what marketing could look like, what it is and what it could be.
This is hugely influential. He's written a number of books, obviously, in the last 10 to 15 years. I mean, would you argue there’d still be a misunderstanding about what marketing actually is?
Vivi Koroma Kala 25:44
Hmm, that's a good question. He has been so influential, he was introduced to me by a friend, and I hadn't really come across him before until she told me about his podcast, called Akimbo. And you're right, you know, he really does change the way people look at things. There's another marketer slash brand storyteller called Bernadette Jiwa. She's amazing in the sense that she really gets to the bottom of crafting your story, because people connect with stories. And so you know, if you've got a story to tell, tell it enthusiastically and emphatically so that people can connect with your brand, your business, you, that little bit better.
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