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Life and Work with Allie Bell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allie Bell.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Allie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up with a big family, and while my parents tried to make time for all of us, we learned at an early age that if we wanted something – we had to get it ourselves.

To pave the way for my future, I started working in high school and juggled three jobs in college. While in college, I became a single mom and had to balance school, work, and parenting on my own as my family lived several hours away. My first career-related job put me at a local gas station at 4 am reporting live about a shooter still on the loose. In my head, all I could think about was my son who was asleep in my car as I worked. I had no one else to rely on, and I needed something safer, different. I moved closer to my family for support, and got a job as a managing editor over several local publications. I became an expert in my field and spoke at multiple conferences and award shows. From there, I bought a one-way ticket to New York City – with no job, no place to stay, and no contacts. I gave myself three months to find something and get situated, or I would go back home knowing that my career had hit a cap.

My friends and family all told me I was crazy to go to NYC on my own. My mom thought I was abandoning my kid, whereas in my mind I was working toward a better career that would provide more for my son and I. My old boss at my part-time retail job told me, “If anyone can do this, it’s you.” I reminded myself that if I wanted a change, no one would give it to me – I had to find or make the change myself. Luckily couch surfing was popular, so that’s how I found a place to sleep, and food was one meal a day as I went from interview to interview. I landed a part-time gig as a retail manager in Times Square until I could secure something better. After two-and-a-half months, I was offered a freelance gig at CNN where I worked early mornings transitioning the news from international desks to domestic. This particular experience of moving to NYC on my own and getting a job at a major media company was the catalyst to becoming the person I am today.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
In high school, I thought I wanted to become a marine biologist, but when I became a single mom that all changed. I wanted a job that would have some flexibility to be there with my son and help him grow. I didn’t realize that a full-time job in journalism meant long hours at the office, meeting deadlines, never-ending interviews, editing, and rarely seeing your family.

The move to NYC was one of the best things I did for myself and my son. Even though the hours were early, it allowed me to be home after my son got out of school. It also allowed me to find time to discover my own passions, such as dancing, fitness, and fashion. I learned new skill sets, such as SEO, that weren’t taught in college. There were no certifications in this field, you had to gain your own experience and do your own research. It’s the same for dancing and fitness, sure you can learn from others, but you have to put in the time and effort to make a difference.

My advice to other women, especially those trying to figure out what they want to do early in life, is to try lots of different things and don’t feel like you have to stay in one career path. Venture out, move around, find new places and experience new things. Travel abroad, learn about new cultures. Find out what you like, and what you don’t like. Figure out what you can do and find opportunities to build new skills.

The world is fast paced and ever changing. If you stay stagnant – you will be left behind. Once you find what you want, go out and get it yourself. Don’t rely on others to push you forward or help you succeed. You have to make the change you need.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Tall Goguma – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I’ve been working in digital audience development for more than 10 years across multiple global media companies. I have done freelance consulting for models, actors, and small businesses where I built websites, integrated strategic audience campaigns, and built my knowledge outside of the media industry. My favorite thing about my career is that it requires constant learning and experiencing new languages in programming.

I have also found outlets for my hobbies such as dancing, fitness, and modeling. Using my digital experience, I built a brand named “Tall Goguma” which focuses on health, fitness, and beauty. The name comes from two meanings…

I’ve always been the “tall” one in the group, and all of the #tallpeopleprob posts sum up my social experiences in a nutshell. I was taller than my second-grade teacher, who asked me to get the chalk from the top of the board every morning. I remember when high waters weren’t cool and was jealous when capris became trendy (regular pant length are capris on me). I even won a scholarship in high school for an essay I wrote on how I use my height to help others. I love being tall, being tall is a part of who I am. Through this brand, Tall Goguma, I want to use my “height” experiences to help others, especially young women, who feel uncomfortable about their length.

The word “Goguma” means sweet potato in Korean. Aside from the health benefits that come from eating sweet potatoes, I picked a Korean word because it’s tied to several great cultural experiences I’ve had. I’ve always loved to dance, and one of my favorite styles is K-pop. The intense choreography performed by K-pop idols mixes hip-hop along with several other genres. It’s challenging but fun to dance as a group, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people along the way. I’ve also been able to MC several times for our local dance group at Unos Dance Studio, including the annual Korean Festival in Ktown. I started learning the language and took a trip last year on my own to South Korea, where I traveled around Seoul and the countryside. It was an amazing time learning about history and culture, and going someplace totally new.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
For digital audience development, one of the key areas is SEO. Google and Moz have several great guides on how to get started in this field. There’s also many experts and websites, such as Search Engine Land, that offer a lot of great insights into the industry and takeaways on how to improve your own website. Other than that, a lot of it is experienced in applying what you learn and seeing what works for your brand or company.

For cooking and healthy eating, there are tons of books, apps, and podcasts. Whatever new cuisine I want to learn, I look through book reviews to see which cookbook might offer the largest option of dishes. Or if there’s a particular dish I want to make, I see which book includes a list of the most authentic ingredients. As for apps to help with healthy eating, it’s mostly about finding a food tracker that works for you. I like Noom for tracking my calorie intake and calorie burn through exercising.

In regards to fitness, I created my own Excel doc to track weight lifting progress to ensure I’m always pushing myself. Paying for a personal trainer or semi-private classes works well too if you find it difficult to do some of the more routine exercises. Instagram is full of exercise examples and experts. However, as a tall person, some of the exercises don’t work the same way or as well, and the way we lift and posture is vital to not hurting yourself.

Learning a new language isn’t easy. Lynda has been a great way to learn the basics for programming languages. As for teaching Korean to myself, I had several friends who were willing to help me, but the “Talk to Me in Korean” series has been great. If I find things are getting too frustrating, I watch the YouTube channel “Jolly” to remind myself that learning a new language is hard and it’s OK to get stuck sometimes. The key thing is to continually practice, daily if possible, and make goals that motivate you to continue – such as another trip to South Korea.

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Image Credit:
Tall Goguma

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