"Lover": Cleo Abram
I first met Cleo in the Hamptons. It was a girl crush from day one. She's beautiful, intelligent and killing it.
Cleo founded "The Short Version" - a website that breaks down a controversial issue, explains how it affects you, and then gives you the best argument for each side. Cleo does all of this in one short, straight forward email. So do yourself a favor and SUBSCRIBE.
Besides creating The Short Version, Cleo is the Manager of Brand Strategy at Vox and a model signed with New York Models. (Super casual.)
I met up with Cleo to catch up and hear about her new job. I left feeling inspired, empowered and grateful for women like her in my life. I can't wait for you to feel the same.
The Short Version, Vox and Modeling - What's the key to doing it all?
Coffee! Being around people who work harder and do more. Support from people, like my boyfriend, who are willing to edit my writing and brainstorm ideas and stay up late or wake up early on a project - and who expect me to do the same for them. Everyones their best self when their helping someone else, as corny as that sounds.
Where did the idea for The Short Version come?
Two things were happening at the same time. I was trying to improve something about myself and make something useful for my friends.
I grew up in DC, surrounded by people working in politics - almost entirely Democrats. After college, I worked at a political consulting firm born out of the Obama campaigns. I loved both. I also noticed I was becoming more interested in polemics than genuine debate. So, The Short Version began partly as an effort to change that I was (am) working on seeing things from multiple perspectives and being able to argue each side in their voice.
Also around then, because I follow politics and policy so closely, my friends would often ask for "the short version" of major debates. They're all curious, smart and extremely busy working in all kinds of different industries. They wanted the basics, but not just the facts - best points on each side, so they could form their own options. First it was a weekly email among friends, then friends-of-friends, then people I'd never met. And eventually, The Short Version! It's still very much an evolving, growing work in progress.
When creating The Short Version what was important to you?
The goal is always to explain major issues and support honest debate. It is really important to me that you can't tell which side of the issue I'm on - I'm still working on it! When I write each side of the debate, I try to fully immerse myself in that point of view. Sometimes I come away more strongly believing in my original opinions. Sometimes I switch sides. Most often I just respect another perspective more deeply.
I also wanted it to be extremely simple - no jargon, no bullshit. When I was younger my dad used to take a hatchet to my essays, crossing out the big words I though made me sound smart and asking what I really meant. I you have good ideas or useful writing, you don't need to dress it up.
What are you doing at Vox?
My work is different every day, but I'm the manager of Vox.com revenue and brand strategy. Basically, how Vox can make money and grow. I work with the editorial team, the sales team, the revenue team and Vox's general manager Andrew Golis to answer, "how can we develop Vox as a product?"
I truly believe in this brand. It cuts through the noise and explains the news. It's for people who are both curious and busy, who love to learn, who innately get that it's cool to actually know shit. (Cleo's excitement about this is seriously contagious.)
How did you start modeling?
I was walking in Brooklyn and was stopped by a talent agent for American Eagle. I ended up doing a shoot that was featured in Times Square. (WHATTT.) I had never been in front of a camera in that way before - not smiling in a picture, for example, felt really strange.
How does modeling fit into the big picture?
Honestly, modeling has nothing to do with my interest in politics or media. I find the fashion industry fascinating, and it's fun. I feel lucky to have this window into the fashion world. It's full of people creating amazing art, starting exceptional businesses, and supporting great causes.
I do think modeling has made me more comfortable in front of a camera and made me think harder about how we visually share information, in fashion and in news.
What's your morning and night routine?
With this new job, I'm giving my habits a bit of revamp. I'm trying to wake up every morning at 6am, not because I'm a morning person but because I want to be. It's a great time to get things done I might not otherwise have time for. I'll usually work on The Short Version, read or workout before work.
After work, Ill try to catch up on anything I missed - I use Nuzzle to consolidate what's most important from my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Particularly Twitter. I make sure I'm following people across a wide political range. I have a running list of panels and other events I can learn from, and try to go to them even when what I really want us to curl up on my couch and watch Westworld. But I love an evening at home, hanging out with my roommates or boyfriend (and Westworld is amazing.)
What are your goals for the future?
As I get to know both media and politics, I become so much less sure about where I want to end up. I’m becoming more and more excited by the material and not necessarily the job title I want to fill. And I ended up getting a job I really love.
President Obama had an amazing answer on this, in an interview with Brandon Stanton. He said, “if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’—then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”