This post originally appeared on Girlboss.
Musician and GIRLSCHOOL director Anna Bulbrook went from festival-circuit superstar to founder with a mission. Here, she dishes on what it takes to build a super-ambitious mission from the ground up, and why there’s still plenty of glory in the humdrum tasks of building a business.
You may know her as the rockstar who played violin behind Kanye West or the powerhouse string section behind that iconic Sometime Around Midnight chorus circa 2008. In the decade since, Anna Bulbrook has added “founder” to that list of accomplishments as well, as the mastermind behind GIRLSCHOOL – a music festival with a mission, working to celebrate, connect, and lift women-identified artists, leaders and voices. Hell yeah.
In her experience as a musician, there were a handful of questions that dogged Anna, and that eventually inspired her to build GIRLSCHOOL: “Where were the women in music? Why weren’t there more of us on stage at major music festivals? Or on the radio? Or getting cool support slots?”
And so she made her own space. Since then, she’s spent her days turning GIRLSCHOOL into an ambitious, inclusive community bringing together musicians who are committed to raising the profiles of female and female-identifying artists. And while there comes a day in every founder’s life when she realises her schedule is going to be filled with infinitely more minutiae than originally planned, Bulbrook has come to love it:
“Because these mundane tasks are all for a community whose potential I believe in more than anything in the world, that basic stuff feels satisfying on a level I didn’t know was possible outside of, you know, playing the best festival set of your career.”
So which tools does Bulbrook use to keep her energy and enthusiasm barrelling forward on a day-to-day basis? She shares her tips below.
Your power mantra?
“Do you have an idea? Are you curious where something will lead? You don’t need to know everything yet. Just fucking start.”
Your can’t-miss podcast?
“NPR’s How I Built This is inspiring if you run your own business, or want to run your own business. I love hearing about the spectacular risks and insane faith that all of these mega-successful founders have as they build companies from nothing into behemoths. And I love hearing about the failures – some of which are gigantic – that they experienced along the way. If you listen to enough of them, you also start to see that there’s no profile for what a tremendous leader looks or acts like.
“Also, if you are a music nerd, you need to listen to Song Exploder. Now.”
What are you currently reading and listening to?
“I just finished reading Ottessa Moshfegh’s twisted, funny, and perfectly-written Homesick For Another World, and her novel, which I found to be even more wonderfully twisted, Eileen.
“I’m also re-reading Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. She’s one of the very best fiction writers, essayists, feminists, and Twitter-ists around.”
Your productivity hack?
“Momentum has a way of creating more momentum. Also, I make a lot of lists.”
Your most opened app?