Hannah Russell took her newfound obsession further than most. She co-founded Mags Creative, an independent podcast production company, with her sister, Faith. Today, her business has grown to millions of audio downloads, and has won numerous honors, including the Best Network or Publisher at the British Podcast Awards 2022.
The sisters' previous business, Layer Home, was a digital marketplace selling second-hand, high-end furniture. Here, Russell spent much of her day on Instagram, connecting with influencers and growing the companys following. Podcasts provided her a welcome escape from the hectic world of curating.
Faith and I both suffered from screen fatigue in the 1980s, and Instagram was a different experience in 2014/2017. When Russell discovered podcasts, it was so liberating to listen to what people said rather than observe what they looked like. Through their stories, I became a part of a community. We believe that by facilitating these conversations, we may make positive changes.
Below, she discusses the best advice she's ever received and how she's been able to escape the comparison trap.
What career advice have you received that you continue to use?
My mother once said that comparison is the thief of joy. Yet on Instagram, you are kind of operating in a whole world of comparison; you're constantly looking at others without actually knowing the reality of their situations. It's something that I've always strived to achieve.
What steps do you take to break the cycle of comparison if you find yourself falling into a routine of comparison?
It's about noticing it. I've had a lot of therapy; I've had a lot of coaching and that has helped me to understand myself better. If I notice that I'm often comparing myself to another person, and I'm coming off worse, I can begin to sort of deduce this.
What about the worst advice you have been given?
I do not believe this is a good thing per se, but I do notice a common belief that you can't love your job every day. I agree that every day is okay, but I think you can appreciate and be fulfilled by your job. If you're striving towards something you believe in, working hard isn't as a chore.
People can do more than they imagine they can. Because we all have the capacity to learn, values and work ethic can be equally as important as experience. For example, we didn't come from a podcasting background, yet we've still managed to run a successful business.
What motivates you to start your own business, having founded two?
I like the formal phase of business: the sluggishness, the forward motion, and the hustle. There's something quite satisfying in that. Now are looking to spread that start-up energy across more people and projects. Entering this new phase of business gives us more things to prove, which I continue to find exciting.
Any podcast recommendations?
Always! We have just released a Spotify Original show called Partners in Crime with Laura Whitmore and Iain Stirling. They're discussing the strangest and weirdest true crime stories through the generations. I'd also recommend Johnny Wilkinsons podcast, I Am. He's so knowledgeable and insightful, yet with each episode you're gaining confidence both personally and professionally.
For clarity, this interview has been edited and condensed.