The M Dash

For the woman with #BetterThingsToDo.


Ampersand Woman: Journalist Ann Friedman

All Photos: Jason Travis

Do you ever read an article and think, “I want to hang out with this writer?” That’s how we feel pretty much every time we read a piece by Ann Friedman. In her column for New York Magazine‘s The Cut, she tackles topics ranging from creative birth control and female friendship to hot Barbie sex and how not to give a f*ck. She perfectly articulates what I think of as an easy but resolute kind of contemporary feminism, or as she would call it, low-maintenance ladyswagger™ (yep, she trademarked it). 

Below, we chat with Ann about the writer’s life, the importance of “taking your colleagues with you,” and of course, Beyoncé.

*   *   *

Ann, please state your location.
My mailing address is Los Angeles, but I’m pretty nomadic these days.

Where are you from originally?
Dubuque, Iowa.

Why did you become a journalist?
I’ve wanted to be a journalist since I first started reading newspapers and magazines, probably around age 12 or 13. I’m one of the few people who knew immediately what she wanted to do and never changed her mind.

What’s your morning routine before you start work?
I read a lot of internet on my phone while I’m still in bed. Then sometimes I jog through the park near my house, sometimes not. But there is always coffee involved before I start working.

What’s your personality at work in three words?

How about three letters? TCB. (Taking care of business. You know, the Elvis mantra.)

When you were little, what did you want to be?
A writer.

When you “grow up,” what do you want to be?
A better writer.

Best advice you ever got?
My mom refers to people as either “personality plus” or “personality minus”—the plusses are the people who make an effort to care about others and be sociable. I try to be a personality plus.

What do you wish you had known when you started working?
So many things! You don’t have to be mean or aloof to be taken seriously. You’re going to have a lot of different jobs, so don’t panic if the one you have now isn’t perfect—there is no perfect job. If you’re smart, you take your colleagues with you, sometimes literally (hiring and recommending them) and always figuratively (by staying in touch and continuing to rely on their advice and expertise, and supporting them, too).

How do you dress for work?
I work at home, alone. Usually wearing an oversized men’s button-down shirt and leggings. My uniform when I worked in an office was jeans, an oversized silky blouse, and ankle boots, with a few power accessories on important days.

When you need to “dress up” but still look professional, what’s your secret fashion weapon?
Huge vintage jewelry.

If you could have a power lunch with anyone, who would it be?
Beyoncé, just so I could start sentences with, “Well, at my power lunch with Beyoncé…” and be dead serious.

If you could have happy hour with anyone, who would it be?
Susan Sontag.

Success is… having the skills and passion and opportunities to regularly produce work you’re proud of and that others find meaningful, too.

Happiness is… a Sunday with no obligations.

Being liked… is overrated.

Being kind … is underrated.

A working woman can never have too many… friends. Real friends. I’m not talking about LinkedIn connections.

What’s your motto?

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.

Read about Ann’s daily routine! (Click here for larger view—you don’t want to miss this!).

– Interview by Tory Hoen


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