SVETLANA LEGETIC // BYT MEDIA INC
Svetlana is the co-founder of BYT Media Inc., a media company that both publishes a daily lifestyle online magazine in DC & NYC and on the BYT Productions side organizes high impact events and consults with brands and cultural institutions on a way to target a certain, hard-to-reach demographic we speak to daily on our website. Former architect, pretty good sister, friend and daughter.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up very early (usually by 6am) and head straight to the office (we work out of the Wonderbread We Work space in Shaw, which I couldn’t recommend more if I tried). The quiet period between 6:30-9:30/10am is my golden time to do actual work: finish stories, write proposals, do some solid coordinating and planning. After 10am the full staff is in, the interns are in, and the work emails start to go into overdrive. I basically just go into defense mode of juggling that and meetings. We publish about 20 stories in DC every day and 10 in NY in every lifestyle category imaginable (art, film, music, theatre, food, comedy, gay culture…) and it happens every 30 minutes between 8am and 4pm. After 4pm, I tend to take a little break, then go to an event or catch up on my reading, etc.
I try not to take work home but it is sometimes obviously impossible, especially since our work IS so life related. I never have my ringer on the phone on, I put my laptop in a drawer after 7pm if I have any say in it, and I try to spend some time either with myself or the people I like. The day is such a sensory overload and on weeks/months we have major events it is often 24/7 that the nighttime downtime is necessary. I try to go to sleep no later than 11. For my own sanity.
What parts of your work do you love?
All of it. I mean, we built this company exclusively around the stuff we care about and love, so it is pretty easy to stay excited even when the workload is insane. Which is good because the workload is insane all the time. But if I had to pick one thing: writing/coordinating or editing something either truly beautiful or truly funny still makes me a little giddy.
What parts of your work/business do you dislike?
All the sort of mandatory housekeeping stuff (billing, collecting, banks trips, keeping track of things, bugging people).
What things do you have to do that you didn’t realize going into BYT?
I don’t think anything came as a particular surprise because I always thought I’d be doing everything so any time I don’t have to do everything, I still feel pleasantly surprised. I do hate saying NO and I have had to learn how to do that (and also, be honest if something/someone is not working and let it/them go — which is always heartbreaking, in both life and work. Heartbreaking BUT NECESSARY).
What are some interesting things people probably don’t know behind the scenes of BYT?
We are a very small core team: just six people. So, while there are designated roles, EVERYONE really does do everything: content, networking, event stuff, etc. And it is a group of VERY STRONG personalities, but the one thing that I do think connects us all is that we ALL TRULY ENJOY THE FUNNY THINGS (which is good since we do organize a massive comedy festival year). So, no matter how stressful the day, we always make room for the funny (recently, this video made everyone’s day).
What type of calendar do you keep?
Google cal all the way. The office keeps a shared one with each of our schedules a different color and we put EVERYTHING on it-work, personal, etc. — so we’re all aware of what’s going on with everyone. It is both a great way to stay aware of people’s lives AND makes scheduling meetings with more than one person a breeze.
How do you plan out your calendar?
Mondays I try to be in the office, meet with our managing editor, look though the week in content, check in with Jenn Tisdale on how ad sales/promo are going, get the week organized, etc. On Tuesdays the mornings are always our ALL HANDS staff meeting, then usually more meetings in the afternoon. Wednesday we do a lot of prep for the Best Weekend Bets, schedule weekend coverage, etc. Thursdays I take more meetings. Fridays we try to take stock of the week and whatnot. I also try to spend 1 week a month in NY to work on our stuff there, though if things are very busy here in DC, then that still takes precedence.
How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?
I am a handwriter of to-do lists and then a classic “cross out when it is done.” I am sure there are better ways to do this but it works and the whole pen-to-paper process it allows my brain to compartmentalize things. I keep a sweet custom limited edition Bentzen Ball Moleskine to keep track of my lists.
How do you attack your never-ending email?
I have tried all sorts of stuff but here is really the only thing that works for me: respond straight away if you can. Even if just to tell people you will send them everything they need in a few hours. If you don’t respond straight away then things fall off your first page and no matter what labeling system you use, things fall by the wayside.
What is your process and/or work strategy?
Anything that you have found that works for you? I think my #1 work strength (and I think this came from being in Architecture school for five years) is that I really know how long things are going to take for me to get them done. I have never in my whole life missed a deadline. The key is to: a. find quiet time to do the work (three hours of concentrated, undisturbed effort is equivalent to six of chaotic jumping around on stuff, in my opinion), b. figure out what your most efficient time of the day is and c. be honest with yourself about what you can (AND CAN’T) do. Watch yourself, learn about yourself, don’t make excuses, just go and do stuff.
Do you have any rituals or routines you do?
Not really. I do like a quiet brisk walk to work (working from home was never truly going to be my thing), and I try and avoid coffee.
How do you GSD at home?
I just try to truly prioritize what matters, what would make me happy, and what would just be a drain on my emotional, mental and physical resources. No tricks really.
What books, websites, posts, and other resources have you found helpful or have changed your life?
The only things I’d like to share here are the immortal words of Matthew Perry in the underrated Aaron Sorkin dramedy: “Studio Sixty On The Sunset Strip”: There’s not an ounce of quit in me. If I could print that on everything so it flashes before my eyes at times of strife, I would. And I don’t really read organizational books or websites, but I do love following truly prolific people’s work and getting super, madly, over-the-moon inspired by it. I just got The Most of Nora Ephron and it is making me want to be better at everything. Even the bad stuff.
Nuggets of advice you’ve been given that have stuck?
My mother always used to tell me when I was a kid and I tried to make excuses for why this or that didn’t work out (usually comparing myself to other people), “I don’t care about other people. Do you think this could be done by someone/anyone?” and I would nod, and she would say, “Then, it can be done by you too.” And my mother is a medical doctor and a PhD and gave birth to two children within 15 months while working full time, studying for her masters and teaching, and saves lives on a daily basis, so I figured she sort of knows what’s up. So I had no choice but to listen to her.
Also, and this is a big one — people like working with people they like. And EVERYTHING is a potential opportunity. Never forget that.
Any other information about how you GSD, please share?
I would just like to reiterate the no excuses policy.
What apps, websites, programs, gadgets do you use:
I keep a pretty basic and mostly gadget free life. I order my cleaning services from Handy, I keep my house basics in order through Amazon Prime, I grocery shop when the fridge is empty, I do a loose monthly budget by hand every month and try and stick to it, I don’t drive and try to walk and bike where I can and avoid public transportation. I read physical books and magazines vs. things on screens (I associate screens with work and can’t really relax). Google Maps, my weather app and Insagram are probably the only three things on my phone I could not live without that are not text message/email related. Sorry, I know this is boring, but it works.
Photos by Jeff Martin