Creatives In Conversation: Creative producer Samra Seifu encourages others to explore.
To take a chance on yourself and find out what you're capable of, you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and lean into the unknown. For Samra Seifu, a multifaceted creative currently working at BuzzFeed, her move to New York City became a direct vehicle for her to do exactly that. After graduating from Indiana University, Samra made the decision to relocate to New York and see where her career would take her next.
Samra's path to her present role as a creative producer has been anything but linear. Her experiences navigating New York serve as an inspiration to try different things, doubling as a necessary reminder that putting in the work is the only way to yield the results you want. Through her tenacity, as well as her mercurial ability to be adaptive in her skillset, Samra has developed a rich foundation that spans everything from digital marketing to content creation to working in the non-profit sector for renowned companies such as Global Citizen and DoSomething.org. As someone who is passionate about the ways in which technology, culture, travel and history intersect, Samra's work in the digital landscape encourages people to explore the world around them, as well as showcases how truly connected we all are.
With causes related to human rights guiding her as her self-described North Star, Samra is driven to make an impact, all while helping brands and companies connect with different audiences through a variety of formats. Samra recently took some time out to talk with the team at DropLabs about her work with BuzzFeed, how living in New York City has both inspired and challenged her, and how music deeply influences her creative process.
What do you do for a living?
I am an Associate Creative at Buzzfeed. I mostly write copy for different brands across verticals, like Bank of America, Hilton Hotels, Venmo, Macy's, and UNHCR. I’m a copywriter primarily, but I also do some video and photoshoot direction. Every day is different.
Do you have an early memory you’d like to share about when you first discovered some of your passions?
It was definitely in high school, specifically in my AP language class where we would do creative writing prompts. I was having a lot of fun with it and my teachers were giving me a lot of praise. It was the first time I realized, oh maybe this could be a real career path for me.
Would you say, after navigating a couple of different paths, working at BuzzFeed is a dream job?
I think my current job is somewhere in-between being my dream job because I've always been more altruistically motivated. I've definitely always wanted to impact human rights and causes that I really care about. I was doing that early on in my career when I was interning with Global Citizen and DoSomething.org. I was able to effect causes I care about, like women's health, education, immigrant and refugee rights and extreme poverty.
When I came to BuzzFeed, we discussed having the opportunity for me to work on different pro bono programs or working with nonprofits or caused-based missions in general. That's definitely my North Star; finding ways to use my creativity and my skills to amplify important social issues. I'm always looking for new ways to do that, from volunteer opportunities to joining trade organizations that really focus on inclusion and change.
What are some ways you get into your creative zone?
I listen to A LOT of music. Every time Spotify Unwrapped comes out, I've listened to way more hours than all my friends. [Laughs] I have the kind of job where most days I can just hunker down and listen to music while I'm writing, and that definitely puts me in the zone. I have playlists for every mood. I also like to do a lot of reading. I read everything from culture magazines to fiction novels, anything that I feel will help me gain more perspective and insight or just get my creative juices flowing. It's not always strategic, but I definitely try to explore as many different mediums and genres of music and literature as I can.
I also get creative inspiration from people in New York. The real reason I wanted to move here is the people. They blow my mind. Everyone is so smart and so cool and everybody has their own thing. New York isn't the right place to come with no motivation, no drive, no nothing, you know? You have to be purpose-driven. I've met zillions of people here who are doing amazing stuff and always keeping me on my game, as well as showing me the possibilities that are out there.
How would you explain the DropLabs experience to your friends?
It’s unlike anything else, in my opinion. I think, as someone who already feels a deep connection to music in general, being able to get that synergy with the shoes and really take the sound to the next level is a unique, special experience. You feel fully immersed in the experience of music, as if you’re in the room with the artists. Especially because New York has so many stimuli, I never really feel like you can just focus on one thing, so I really appreciated how the shoes focused all of my attention.
Do you have any important mantras that you live by?
I met this amazing woman named KJ Rose who works as Lil Nas X's performance coach and does a million other amazing things. She's easily one of the most inspiring people I've ever met. We were talking about career stuff and imposter syndrome, and she said, "When you self-approve yourself, you belong there before you get there." It hit me really hard. It was something so simple yet profound and it really clicked for me. I never even wrote it down anywhere, but the words really resonated with me and I knew I’d never forget them. I think that working in such a competitive industry and in a city as eclectic as New York, it's easy to be inspired. But on the flip side, you're always like, “Do I belong here? Am I good enough?” So KJ’s words have definitely been a guiding influence for me lately.
What are some words of wisdom you'd like to pass along to someone first starting out in your field?
The other day, I was talking about this to a friend who wants to get into novel writing. I told her, no matter what your skill level is, if you're great at what you do, if you're not that great or just starting out or whatever the case may be, you have to do the work. Because, you might see somebody on social media and think, 'Well if they can do it, I can do it,' or 'I'm just as good as them.' But they're doing the work; that's the difference. You have to do the work, otherwise, no one will know how great you are. Even if it sucks, you can edit it, you can reiterate on it, you can fix it. But you have to put pen to paper or whatever your thing is; you have to make an effort.
What are some of your goals for 2020?
This year, I actually have started setting more strategic, monthly goals. Currently, my goal is to get more active. I think I just was like, oh we're in New York, we walk all the time, I don't need to worry about working out but that's not the case at all. So, one of my goals is to get into boxing. I'm also purging my space and getting rid of all of the excess so I can focus more, feel more motivated and have a more productive and efficient lifestyle. I also want to get more personal passion projects going outside of work. I want to focus more on the causes that really drive me and motivate me. Other than that, I also want to cook more. I've decided I'm going to cook one new recipe a week. I usually make the same thing every day so I want to mix it up.
As innovators by design, the team behind DropLabs Technology™ is dedicated to supporting and elevating members of the creative community. Together, we aim to serve as a platform highlighting different creators as they work towards achieving visionary excellence and inspiring others along their path. To nominate a creative leader you’d like to see highlighted on our website, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.