Brenda Della Casa is the owner of BDC Digital Media and the Founder of Badass + Living. She is also the author of Cinderella Was a Liar, the Editor-in-chief and Digital Content Strategist at Preston Bailey Designs and a blogger for The Huffington Post, YourTango and Thrillist. When not working, she is obsessing over Enrique Iglesias, text assassinating her friends or having in-depth conversations with her dog, Tony Montana. Her ambition, determination and dedication to helping others is what makes her badass. Connect with her on Facebook: BrendaDellaCasa, Twitter: @BrendaDellaCasa, Instagram: @BrendaDellaCasa.
What is your morning routine?
I usually wake up around 6:00AM, down two cups of coffee quickly, walk and feed my beloved doggie, Tony Montana, and then run to hot yoga which is followed by the gym. On most days, I will pop into the local church and say hello to the saints. Though I am not religious, I find great comfort in this little routine. Then it’s all about a mad rush to get ready and get into the office.
What is your evening routine?
On most weeknights I tend to socialize for work or see friends. If not, I may pop into the gym again for a little bit or just go home, cook dinner and write or watch a documentary. I usually write in my diary a bit before I go to bed. I tend to be a morning person so my evenings are not all that productive. I am working overtime to get into bed earlier and detach from my phone but it is not easy!
What is your idea of success?
Doing something that is fulfilling that allows you to give back and express yourself while empowering others and leaving a legacy you can be proud of. As being broke would not make me happy either, regardless of how much I loved my work, I want to be financially secure and not stress about money while living authentically. That said, being rich at the expense of my value system is also not “successful” to me so it’s all about balance and choosing the right avenues and associates.
What has been your greatest achievement thus far?
My life as I know it now is my greatest achievement. I am honored to have the career I have, the friendships I have and the demeanor I have. It wasn’t always this way and I worked very hard to create this life and I am very proud of that.
What has been your biggest failure and how did you overcome it?
I really failed myself in my twenties and early thirties in that I didn’t value myself the way I deserved to and that was because I really didn’t know how to. This led to me placing myself in positions that really took chunks out of me spiritually. I overcame it with the help of great friends and really working on making changes every day. I had to learn to love myself which is really hard work for some of us!
What do you feel is the biggest mistake people make when starting a business? Did you make it?
Having a dream without a real plan of execution is a big mistake as is trusting words over actions when it came to business associates. I did both, but I failed fast and turned it around quickly.
What is the trait you most admire in others?
Empathy. I think every good trait someone can have stems from it and every bad trait from a lack of it. When you come from an empathic place, it’s easy to understand why being honest, respectful, kind and working to make things mutually-beneficial is important.
What is your biggest professional pet peeve?
Laziness is my biggest pet peeve in general. I really have zero tolerance for it in my personal or professional life and even less respect for it. It’s not just about sitting around and doing nothing (though that is a turn off for me). A lazy approach to friendship, research, romantic relationships, work, health… it all drives me crazy.
How do you define a great leader?
Someone who works to teach every person around them how to fish in ways that adhere to their unique way of learning. A leader will also cheer them on while they put the bait on the pole and are the first to toast them when they catch the bigger fish.
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead) who would it be and what would you like the topic of conversation to be?
My grandfather. I would tell him how much I love him, appreciate him, am grateful for him and I would ask him a million questions in between two million hugs. If a living person, I would like to have dinner with Eminem. We had very similar upbringings and both became writers and he has a wonderful way of bending words and a grasp on the English language that is unparalleled to me. I also think he expresses feelings I have but never share. I’d love the opportunity to speak with him.
Who is the most badass woman you know and why?
I know a lot of badass women (Kelly, Ann, Yinh and Lukshmi all come to mind) and I am honored to call them my friends. I would say my friend, Lauren Cosenza is pretty high up there. She is the perfect combination of fearlessness and intelligence, candor and compassion. I admire her greatly and often think that, if I had a mother, I would want her to be like Lauren.
What is your best negotiating tactic?
Offer two things for everything you ask for.
What’s your best networking secret?
Don’t ask for things, offer things.
How do you stay organized throughout the day?
A lot of lists, a lot of “oh crap! I need to…” moments and Hattie [Weber] is a lifesaver.
What advice would you go back and give your younger self?
“You can count on yourself. You think you need this person and that person but in reality, you have something inside of you that will always make sure you are taken care of. Also, stop being naive and learn that passion is not love and love is absolutely not enough sometimes. You cannot love someone into being a good person.”
Phone call or email and why?
I am old school and I will always choose a phone call. I am a big fan of tone and person-to-person connections and I find them much more effective when it comes to exchanging information.
What are you most proud of in your life?
That I finally believe my character is worthy of being Mancie’s granddaughter and that I have the friendships and career I have. At the end of the day, the person I am is all I have to offer and I give all I can to make that worthwhile. I want to offer the world something of value and for people to think it was worth knowing me while I am alive and when I am gone.
What qualities do you believe make someone a great team member?
I really value people who are resourceful, hard-working, helpful, accountable, forward-thinking, positive and believe in collaboration. I am a “we can do this, let’s do this” kind of person.
What is the fastest way to turn you off in an interview?
A sense of entitlement which comes through in being late, a lack of preparation, arrogance, not asking questions, etc.
How does someone impress you on an interview?
By showing up ready, doing their research, showing their passion, asking questions and giving clear examples of how they will add value while remaining humble.
Where do you get most of your information?
The BBC, Inc.com, Facebook, Forbes, Jessica Angeles and Lauren Cosenza.
What apps could you not live without?
All of the social media apps and Whatsapp. I would have no job and no access to friends.
What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
Have a plan, be transparent and value your team members financially, emotionally and as human beings.
What do think are the three most essential lessons you have learned in business thus far?
1 | The hours between 9 and 5 do not offer enough time when you’re building something of value and a lot of people will not understand that.
2 | Being a go-getter with humility and respect for all parties is essential. It’s not about getting something from someone one time, it’s about building long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships.
- 3 | Progress is what keeps everything and everyone going in life and in business.
What is your professional motto?
I am not here to advance my career or get the most likes, but to build a legacy I can be proud of.
Who is your business crush?
Where would you like to be professionally in a year?
Closer to Oprah.
What do you regret most?
Not walking away sooner in times when I knew I needed to go and not asking my grandfather more questions.
How do you define happiness?
To love and be loved.
What is your best remedy for FOMO?
Knowing who you are and doing the things you really want to do.
What makes you badass?
I am not afraid to cry, love, bleed, tell the truth or put myself out there. I do not back down from challenges and I will fight and work hard for what and who I believe in. I wake up every morning with a desire to be a good human being and live as much life as I can. I don’t know if that makes me badass, but it makes me feel alive.
Photo: Aisha Singleton