LAUNCHING:

IRIS ZHOU

Company:

Comeback Magazine

THE BIG QUESTIONS

WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?

Founder + Editor-in-chief.

WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?

Since I’m still in school, I spend most of my day in class and doing classwork. But ever morning, I get two hours before class to answer emails, look for interesting people and stories for future issues, and make those stories look nice on the pages. Depending on the stage of the issue-making process, I could be reading drafts of future pieces and answering pitch emails, conducting interviews and photoshoots, or focusing on launching and promoting the issue on social media.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?

The first job I ever wanted to have was an artist. My parents dissuaded me a bit but my interests also moved towards graphic design, package design, and even palaeontology.

WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?

I’m finishing my high school degree this spring and will be going to the University of Pennsylvania Wharton to study business this fall. Hopefully by the end of it, I’ll have a degree to answer this question with!

WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

Remember the lessons. There are endless career articles, books, and advice and if something resonates with you, you should remember it. If something happens in your career first-hand, you should always remember what you learned from it.

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?

I’ve never really had a role model or someone I looked up to. I do, however, have a lot of people that I know whose lives I admire because of how happy and successful they feel in their own terms.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?

The wall that is next to my desk is open and has great natural lighting. I’ve got a calendar on there with the events for the whole year, both one’s I’ve committed to and ones I want to go to. It’s got my goals, sayings or phrases that have stuck with me, and overall it’s just a place for all my thoughts to live and give my brain a bit of a break.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD AND WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS' TIME?

I would love to add another few hours to my short time everyday, but the limitation helps me stay motivated and focused so I’m grateful for the routine I have today.

In five years I hope to see Comeback grow to where it not only provides intellectual resources, but also financial. I’d love to be running a foundation, awarding micro grants to help small businesses and projects grow and succeed. These days it seems like start-ups are rushing to get funding and raise their Series A. But it takes a lot of time and resources to get to the point where your idea is ready for that, and not everyone has that. I want to help them and I see myself working in a position to do so.  

DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?

I feel that I while I can express my ideas and thoughts the same in both, but I always try to have everything together and organized when I talk at work. In private, I feel like I can spew my ideas and thinking in it’s young and messy forms.

DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE YOURSELF AT WORK AND WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?

My company consists of just me and sometimes I have interns to help me out. So far, it’s all been women.

DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?

Diversity matters greatly to me. It should matter to everyone. One can never learn if new ideas are never presented. A company can’t be successful if everyone has the same strengths. That’s why I always aim to have a diverse set of stories in each issue.

HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?

It’s balanced at the moment, but there have been times when it has skewed drastically to either side. It used to worry me that my life wasn’t “balanced” but I’ve come to learn that our life is lived in seasons: some are busy and growing as much as you can, and others are times when we are meant to stay where we are for a bit and enjoy the hard work of the busy season.

WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?

I find that having good time management, being organized, being comfortable with emailing complete strangers, knowing when to get help, and being confident in your abilities.

ANY FINAL COMMENTS?

Be patient.

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