Photos by Elizabeth Lippman
We all want to find that dream job. The job that allows us to “love what we do and live what we love.” When we heard about Live in the Grey (LITG) and its mission to help people blend work and play, we had to talk to Kirsten Kesicki about her job and the experiences that led her to LITG. From working in sales at a real estate company to directing PR director for a bridal salon to her current role as project manager at LITG, Kirsten has definitely had a colorful career path. We sat down with her to learn more about her experiences and why she starts that morning meeting with an exercise class.
New York, New York
Education (College / Major):
University of Miami / Double Major in Public Relations and Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry… attempting to blend my passions with my professional life since college!
Founding Team Member / Project Manager at Live in the Grey
Brief description of Live in the Grey:
Live in the Grey is a resource and community that promotes a new approach to work. We believe that career fulfillment is found by blending personal passions with professional interests. No more black-and-white, life-and-work. True happiness, and a life full of color, is found in the grey. Since launching in January 2013, we’ve hosted dozens of inspirational events nationwide, and we also offer original content on our website for a daily dose of motivation on how to Live in the Grey. We’re currently in the midst of launching Live in the Grey Consulting, which will help companies become more “grey” through adopting our philosophy and creating better company culture. Our one year anniversary recap post sums it all up!
What do you do at Live in the Grey and what inspired you to join this company?
Given the nature of a small startup organization, I tend to wear a few hats! I focus on building our community offline through strategizing, planning and executing our events across the country. I oversee many of the partnerships we have created with our Friends of LITG and ambassadors.
Ever since entering the workforce, I’ve been seeking fulfilling work. When I first found out about LITG through my friend Nidhi, I knew I wanted to be a part of this mission! Nidhi is a friend of mine from a previous job and is also a Founding Team Member for LITG. We like to joke that Nidhi very quickly adopted a part of our LITG Philosophy, “make your friends your colleagues and your colleagues your friends” through recruiting me to the team. It’s definitely a huge perk working closely with a coworker that was first a friend!
Where were you before here?
I was actually on an entirely different career path working at Gabriella New York Bridal Salon, a boutique in Soho that sells a curated selection of designer wedding gowns and accessories. I met Gabriella while searching for my own wedding dress and decided I wanted to help her grow her business by doing the in-house PR and marketing. Gabriella took a risk by allowing me to make a hybrid sales and communications position on her team. It was a great learning experience for me to dive into a whole new world; there’s more to the bridal industry than sparkles and lace. Gabriella is still a friend and mentor of mine today!
From real estate to the wedding industry to your current job, what do you think has been your most useful skill set?
I’ve realized throughout my career, I’ve always been trying to help people in some way. I started my career as a receptionist at Corcoran Sunshine, where I helped improve the office environment. Then I moved on to an administrative and sales position selling luxury condos. So, I’ve gone from helping someone find a unique home at One Jackson Square, to helping a woman find the perfect gown at Gabriella New York, and now to helping people find success through fulfillment by choosing a career that ignites passion. It’s been an honor to be a part of so many people’s journeys.
A day at work looks like:
Every day is different at LITG and that’s one of the reasons I love my job! I usually like to start my day with a coffee or breakfast meeting with one of our collaborators. Currently, I’m planning an event with Lululemon, so we’ve been meeting often. It’s fun because our meetings always start with an exercise class to get our brains working. This is clearly a very “grey” way to work and a method that Lululemon practices daily! My afternoons are usually full of phone calls or meetings at the office to find ways to support people and companies in our network. Then I always connect with our founder, Maneesh, to see what his point of view is on our upcoming events and collaborations.
Office culture in a few words:
It’s pretty difficult to sum up the office culture at Live in the Grey in a few words–since this is what we are all about! We’re fortunate to share office space with our sister company MKG, which affords us the opportunity to be a part of their company culture. We’ve created a super cool atmosphere here based mostly on keeping things fun and fresh in the workplace. The environment truly encourages everyone to “bring your funky self” and “be family spirited.”
Favorite part of your job:
There’s nothing more rewarding than receiving notes or phone calls from people whose lives we have touched via our community events and content. Without a doubt, creating a space where people can make connections offline in an online world is my favorite part. Sometimes you can actually tell when someone’s had a light bulb go off and they’ve decided to change their perception. Encouraging people to think and act differently to better their lives is pretty magical to me.
What has been the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is usually staying focused when we have so many moving parts going on with our events and collaborations. We’re always striving to do more and trying to inspire as many people as possible, but that can be tough with a small team.
Apps (or other pieces of tech) you can’t live without:
I try my best to not rely on technology. I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to tech. One App I use pretty often though is called Around Me. It’s basically a glorified way of using Google, but I like it, especially when I’m traveling. I’d be lost without my old school notebook, which holds all of my to-do lists, ideas and notes from meetings.
Your personal style in a few words:
I dress based upon my mood, which naturally changes pretty often. I can go from dressing classic and preppy one day to being more bohemian the next day. The one constant is that I always keep my style very feminine. It’s likely because I have two older brothers, so my mother couldn’t wait to dress me up and that always stuck with me! I’m usually overdressed.
My style icons have changed tremendously over the years. I used to say Marilyn Monroe, but now I’m not quite sure. Living in NYC, it’s cliché to say this, but I’m always inspired by everyday women I see on the streets.
Office dress code:
You can basically wear whatever you want here. I’d say the line is drawn at workout clothes and pajamas. Everyone really flaunts their personal style here, which is great!
Go-to work outfit:
I’m all about dresses; whether it’s a wrap, sweater dress, or shift, I’m almost always in a dress.
Go-to bag for work and items inside:
I’ve been using a black and white Bettina Satchel by Banana Republic for several months and it holds almost too much! For the longest time I’ve been that girl who carries a large bag with way too many things inside including dozens of lipsticks/lip glosses, two notebooks, an iPad, snacks, an eco bag for whatever I might pick up and even a mini lint roller! For Lent, I’m trying to give up extra baggage; physically and mentally… so I’ve been trying to use smaller handbags to prevent overfilling.
Spring item you plan to splurge on:
A new weekend bag and matching tote! Currently my weekend bag is so worn out that it embarrasses my husband when I use it.
I like to keep things interesting by not having a set routine, but it usually involves lemon water and/or peppermint tea, yoga and of course, “The Today Show.” I find these things to be pretty vital for me to have a good day!
How do you “live in the grey”?
Living in the grey to me is incorporating my personal interests and friends in our LITG events. I feel like I’ve finally been granted the chance to act on my personal interest to help people in a more substantial way than ever before. Through our LITG events I hope to help people learn and grow, whether that be in a big or small way. My job has given me a new way to connect with my friends, like through conversations around personal/professional development and the challenges we all face when trying to find our “grey”.
Favorite spot for a ten minute break?
If there’s a church nearby, I will hop inside for 10 minutes of pure silence. Even if you’re not religious, there’s something incredibly calming about sitting in a place of worship. If not, then I will find the nearest green space to sit and regroup. I live and work downtown, so there are many tiny little parks with benches.
On a Saturday you can be found:
Escaping to the North Fork!
Cooking as often as possible, scouring antique/thrift shops for treasures, learning about spirituality, traveling the globe and writing.
At age 10 what did you envision yourself growing up to become?
I was convinced that I would become a missionary or work for the Peace Corps. I have yet to do either of these things, but I like to think my current job is not too far off from being a missionary–since I’m essentially evangelizing a very positive message!
Best piece of advice ever received:
My mother has always said “treat people how you want to be treated.” In friendship and business, I can’t stress enough how important this advice has been. It’s so easy to react without thinking sometimes, but really, you have to always take a step back and realize everyone is going through something. We live in such a myopic world with social media and instant everything, it’s important to remember we are all humans that deserve respect.
I feel like I have so many mentors and many of them don’t even know it! One mentor that has been crucial for giving me great advice since I began my career is Gabby Bernstein. I met Gabby in 2008 when she was just launching HerFuture.com and writing her first book. Whether it’s a five minute phone call or long-winded email, she’s always down to share advice with me. She’s taught me that a good mentor relationship has to be mutually beneficial; the mentee can teach the mentor and you both have to make time for one another.
In 10 years… :
I’ve made a positive impact on the world. I’ve traveled to every continent. My husband and I have our own non-profit organization. “Living in the grey” is added to the Urban Dictionary.
Career wisdom for young professional women:
Never lose sight of your internal compass. Always check in with yourself to make sure that what you’re putting into the universe is the kind of energy you’d like to receive from it. It’s easy to get caught up in what you don’t have; focus on all of the blessings you have instead (like clean water and internet to learn everything you might wonder about). Rather than worrying about a 5-year plan, try to make an actionable 5-day plan. The small shifts you can create in your life will ultimately end up helping you achieve bigger goals when you least expect it.