Our virtual work bestie about the wide world of corporate life, drawing boundaries, and normalising mistakes

Toodaloo, toxicity. 

13 June, 2023
Our virtual work bestie about the wide world of corporate life, drawing boundaries, and normalising mistakes

She makes a quirky, humorous, and immensely relatable appearance on our Instagram feeds, and we can’t seem to get enough of her. With what began as a passion project on TikTok, two years ago, Laura Whaley finds herself thriving in the creative space of content and videography. She seeks inspiration from the hustle of the corporate life and through her content, we meet co-workers who don’t understand boundaries; the manager, who acts like a leader; and even the manager who comes nothing close to it. Her message is clear: taking care of your mind, body, and heart and not getting carried away by the whirlwind of corporate work culture. Cosmopolitan India had a chat with Whaley about her content creation journey, her ways of drawing a balance, and the adventures that lie ahead of her. 

Cosmopolitan India: Tell us about the corporate life you were living?

Laura Whaley

Laura Whaley (LW): I went to business school and entered the corporate world after my graduation, literally. I finished my last exam on a Friday and started work on a Monday. I worked in the IT space, mostly in e-commerce for a national company here (Canada). That was about eight years ago. 

Cosmopolitan India: How did your content creation journey start and why did you create this type of content?

LW: I’ve always been creative. During the lockdown, when it got lonely, photography and videography was an outlet for my creativity. I started creating content and posting it on TikTok. At the time, I didn’t have any followers. At that time, it was one of the only consistent things in my life because I wasn’t able to do anything else. Eventually, people joined in on the conversation, and said things like: “I can relate to this”, or “I thought I was alone”. It made me realise that there’s a niche for this and my videos started to grow. 

Cosmopolitan India: Did you draw inspiration from your personal experiences in the corporate world? 

LW: I would pull on general things from my working experience but I would never pull direct occurrences or personalities that I dealt with because I wanted to separate my career from my content. I wanted to be respectful and mindful of the boundaries between the two so that no one I ever worked with would feel uncomfortable. A lot of my content is also based on the stories that my followers share online; there are a lot of commonalities regardless of where you live or where you’re at in your career. A lot of my journey has also been about self-discovery; I was able to understand who I am without the noise of expectations—that’s where my inspiration came from. 

Cosmopolitan India: How much of a role did the pandemic play in your own understanding of achieving a work-life balance? 

Laura Whaley

LW: When it comes to working and creating work-life balance, I’ve always been very mindful of boundaries. These boundaries became a lot more apparent during the pandemic and it became an opportunity for people to realise that there’s another way to look at the idea of the work-life balance.
Cosmopolitan India: What advice would you give to those who struggle with drawing boundaries? 

LW: I believe that when you’re setting a boundary and saying no to something, you’re saying yes to something else. During my professional journey, if I didn’t have boundaries set in place, I wouldn’t have been able to set up this business on the side during my off hours. Drawing boundaries is not a negative thing; it’s just an allocation of your priorities, time, and energy. It’s about regaining control to live the way you want to and not existing to please those around you or living up to expectations that you don’t care about. Boundaries can be hard to set, but they need to be set. 

Cosmopolitan India: There is a sort of dichotomy about what counts as a toxic workplace between Gen Z and those older than that. What are your thoughts on it? And how does one navigate through it?

Laura Whaley

LW: It’s not fair to make a blanket statement that a certain company is a toxic workplace, because everyone’s experience within that environment and everyone’s version of toxic are different. It’s not as black and white as it comes across to be sometimes. So, it’s important to define what toxic is for you. For me, a toxic environment would be where there’s lack of respect, no acknowledgement of skills, and lack of opportunity for independent work. It’s also about how people treat each other on a basic level, apart from the non-negotiables such as harassment. 

Cosmopolitan India: As part of you content, you got people to share their biggest mistakes at work—what was your aim?
LW: The goal was to humanise the working experience and workplace. When we make mistakes at work, we feel it’s the end of the world or we fear being fired. The goal was to highlight mistakes, own them, and realise that we all make mistakes. It’s alright to fail; after all, we’re all humans. I also tell my team that I’m okay with them making mistakes, but I’m not okay with them not trying and fearing the mistakes so much that it prevents them from event starting. 

Cosmopolitan India: What kind of impact do you aim to create with your content? 

LW: I want to remain authentic to the practices. I’m aware that how I perceive things may not work for others because everyone has different priorities. But I just want to throw things out there, open discussions, and maybe go against the grain a little bit. 

Cosmopolitan India: Did you get negative response when you started off? How did you navigate through that?

Laura Whaley

LW: Any time you throw an idea that goes against what is usually expected, you’re always going to get some pushback. I don’t think it’s negative; I am okay with people disagreeing with an idea and bringing in their perspective to the discussion. I think it’s important we realise that career means different things to different people. Sometimes, negativity comes in the form of personal attacks and you have to face it all. I am glad that this social media opportunity found me at a time when I was my most confident. I have a great support network, my health is in check and I have a lot of practices to help support myself. I’m at a point where I can see a hateful comment towards me, not take it personally, block it, and ignore. Though, it’s not like things never get to me. 

Cosmopolitan India: We’re seeing the creator economy booming across the world. Do you see yourself in a space where there’s a lot of pressure to stay relevant and create content even on days you may not feel like? 

LW: It’s a different kind of pressure for anyone in the creative industry, because a lot of the work is public-facing. And I do not feel like putting a camera in front of my face every single day, thus, a lot of planning has to go into it—whether it’s batch filming or making sure I have days off or some time offline. Hitting the point of exhaustion is a good reminder that I need to take care of myself. I think of it like a consumer—if someone you followed didn’t post for a couple of days, you wouldn’t think they are irrelevant. So, you need to give yourself the same grace you give others online. 

Cosmopolitan India: What are some of the practices you have in place to ensure this? 

LW: It’s a lot of time-blocking and making sure that I have time for myself every single day. It is about understanding, if you keep working without breaks, it’s going to take you longer to complete the task and your output is going to suffer in the bargain. You need to take time away from work, physically and mentally, and dedicate time to something you want to do. It’s also about having a great support network in place—I’ve a great therapist as well as a deep yoga and meditation practice that I turn to. It’s also a lot of basics too—eating nourishing foods, staying hydrated, and making time to implement these in your daily life. 

Cosmopolitan India: You plan many trips with different groups of people. How did that come to be? 

Laura Whaley

LW: Travel has been a big part of my life since I was young. So, when a travel partner reached out to me about leading trips with my followers, it intrigued me. A lot of my success is because of the community I have online, so it’s nice to be able to do something with them offline and spend time with them. 

Cosmopolitan India: What’s next on your content creation journey? 

LW: Throughout my career, I have learnt that you can plan as much as you want but it’s important to leave space for the doors you don’t know are going to open. I’m in a season of my career now where I want to learn new things, learn about new businesses, and that’s the direction I’m moving in—where new things come along that I can say yes to while pursuing my day-to-day projects.