Interviews

Gaby, Founder of Talk Twenties on “The Roller Coaster Of A Decade”

"The benefit that 20-somethings have right now is that we’re so adaptable to change, we’re flexible."

Kirsty Turbott


Talk Twenties was founded in January 2020 with the initial goal of creating in-person events that students and graduates could attend. Only a few months later however, due to a small inconvenience known as Covid-19, in-person events were not possible and Gaby therefore had to adapt and change her idea so that she could still deliver her message to young 20-somethings. 

“How can I still support that same demographic, how can I still keep that mission the same but support people in other ways? And that developed into a podcast.” 

What would have potentially been just a limited number of in person events in the North-West of England, has turned into a podcast with 15,000 listeners and a national and international audience. 

So, where did the idea initially come from? 

Gaby studied education at university before embarking on a teaching career, where her first class to look after were a group of sixth form students. She quickly realised that all their questions and concerns about their futures were all concerns that she shared and did not have the answers to. It was therefore because of this, that Gaby realised there just wasn’t anywhere for young people to go to with their questions, and after working briefly in the events industry, she decided to “marry the two together” (events and education) and that is where Talk Twenties was born. 

Talk Twenties now includes a blog, a podcast, workshops, online courses and various communities to help guide people through, what Gaby calls, “a roller coaster of a decade” and teaches the skills that are not taught at school. 

We talked about the expectation there is that when you graduate and start your 20s, everything will fall into place and you will know exactly what to do. For Gaby, however, she recalls thinking to herself “what is this adult life?” having moved to a new city, where she didn’t know anyone, and was pursuing a career that she wasn’t passionate about: 

“ [It was] a really tough time well-being wise. I was really struggling with anxiety and depression at the time. I think there’s a term for it, post-graduate depression, that no one really talks about, and I think it’s probably something that a lot of people are going through right now because they’ve graduated last year and are coming into a world that looks entirely different, that no one knows how to navigate. It’s been really tough and I don’t think people are speaking about how they felt graduating university. I felt it and I didn’t graduate during a global pandemic.”

Talk Twenties aims to teach graduates about the essential skills, such as finance, that we’re not taught at school, while also creating a community of like minded 20-somethings who want to have the conversations about topics that affect us, such as post-graduate depression. 

Any big plans for the future? 

As I asked this, Gaby put down her mug and simply said: “massive”. She claims to be a person with “big dreams” and, in her own words:

“In the last year, if you’d have said where I am right now, it’s probably bigger than the dreams I was imagining.” 

Some of her goals do include hosting in person events, or even festivals and potentially creating an app. She wants to help as many people as she can and one of her personal goals is to write a book. Ideally, she would like Talk Twenties to be “where you go to find out all the information you didn’t get taught in school”. 

As she explains, they are really just at the beginning of their journey… 

What does success mean to you? 

Success means “fulfilling the potential that I know I have inside myself; not fulfilling it for other people, but becoming the ideal person that I myself want to be.” 

For Gaby, success is very much about how you feel, and about getting a little bit closer every day to the person you want to be. She says it is less about what other people think, but more about how you feel in yourself. It’s also not about the amount of “you’re smashing it” messages you get in your inbox, “if you don’t feel it’s important to you, that’s not success to you.” 

To highlight this, Gaby talked about her teaching career. While to many it looked as though she had started a great job, and therefore must have found success, the reality of how she was feeling couldn’t be further from that: 

“I didn’t fit in, I felt like I was battling with myself every single day, I should be enjoying this but I’m not. I kept having internal conflict, whereas on the outside, people don’t see that, people don’t know what’s going on inside.” 

In short, Gaby’s definition of success is knowing what you want and what makes you happy, not what you think will look good, and taking little steps every day to become that person you want to be. 

Social media is constantly changing and every day we’re seeing new features and even completely new platforms; how do you stay on top of all of this and what are your thoughts on the influence of social media at the moment? 

“It’s part of our lives, not the whole of our lives.” 

While this is a topic that Gaby has covered in her own podcast, she says that the impact of social media is massive and will continue to play an increasingly significant part in our lives, i.e “you can’t escape it.” All businesses now use social media, from building construction companies, to the NHS, they all now have to have a social media presence if they want to stay relevant. Our world revolves around social media, and for that reason, Gaby believes that “setting limits” is hugely important. 

A big goal that Gaby has for this year is to focus on maintaining a successful social media presence, while also having a life away from Instagram. She uses apps to set limits and lock certain apps if she has reached her daily limit, and admits that since starting this, she has found herself developing a new routine in which she isn’t even coming close to her social media time limits. One of the ways she does this is by batch creating her content and scheduling her posts. She does admit as well, that while she has a healthy relationship with her Instagram now, it is something that has taken her around 4 years to master. 

Another goal that Gaby is choosing to focus on at the moment, is collaboration over competition: “There is an abundance of opportunity in the world, and just because someone else exists who is covering similar topics to you doesn’t make you any less.” 

In addition to this, we spoke about how social media can often be a place where we feel the need to update our followers with a constant stream of information and let them know exactly what we’re doing and when. For Gaby, this is something that she has actively started to change and has recently began to steer her brand in a more professional direction as opposed to personal: 

“I don’t need to document my whole day anymore, I don’t need to do that and I think because people get what I am, they don’t need to know what I had for breakfast. They understand what I do. […] Constantly putting yourself out there is exposing and everyone’s going to have an opinion on this, or that. Sharing what you feel comfortable sharing is an important thing.”

Your podcast is about helping and giving advice to young people in their twenties, what do you think the effect of this pandemic will be on that age group? Obviously there is a lot of unemployment and for those of us who have recently graduated or are graduating soon, finding a job will be harder. Do you think that that combined with long periods of lockdown is why we’re seeing so many people setting up their own businesses or choosing to do freelance work instead? 

In terms of people leaving their jobs to start their own business, Gaby believes this is because people are now thinking “I want to take my own responsibility. I don’t want my life to be dictated by whether my employer can ride the wave or not.” In other words, furlough has taken away people’s ability to make their own decisions and by setting up their own businesses, people are able to “take control of their own lives”. 

For those who had perhaps been in the same job for a long time, but who may have always dreamt of starting their own business, this last year gave them the excuse to leave, and the push they needed to pursue their career ambitions. 

Gaby also acknowledges that while this last year has been tough for graduates, “there are opportunities out there.” For instance: “companies are more open to people working from home. […] you could work for a company across the world from your bedroom.” 

In addition to this, Gaby explained: 

The benefit that 20-somethings have right now is that we’re so adaptable to change, we’re flexible. Not many of us have a tonne of responsibilities, we’re open to learning. What’s harder is for the older generation who have a family that they can’t move around, they have a certain amount of bills, etc. […] As a graduate it may feel truly, truly crap but there’s a wealth of opportunity to look for.” 

What advice would you give to people who are looking to set up their own business or podcast at the moment? What can people do to stand out? 

“The number one advice I would give to anyone is consistency. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if you show up for a week and then you disappear off the face of the earth and come back six months later and go I’m back! […] no one’s going to take you seriously.” 

The key to this is to say what you’re going to do, and then stick to it. People will know what to expect from you if you’re consistent, and you can’t expect your followers to keep up with you. 

Finally, what is the best advice you have ever been given and who is your biggest inspiration? 

“Going with my gut instinct on the whole has been one of the most important indicators of my life.” 

And… 

“Don’t compare your life to anyone else’s. Your life is yours for living and choose what it is that you want to do and create the life that you want because no one else is going to be there at the end.” 

In response to who inspires her, Gaby said that, while they may be outgoing and at times may be perceived as a bit cheesy, self-help gurus and “their philosophy on life” helped her “in a real time of need.” She explains that when she was feeling stuck and was looking to get out of the teaching profession, it was those people who inspired her to go with her gut and to pursue what she was passionate about. She also mentioned the likes of Steven Bartlett and his podcast Diary of a CEO, and how they encourage people to be the best you can possibly be. 

Gaby’s final words of wisdom, and words that definitely resonated with me, were to be open to taking risks:

“The biggest risk you can take in your twenties is never taking any risks at all. And if you play it safe all the time, you’re going to end up somewhere that’s safe. If you take risks you’re either going to learn really fast from failing, or it’s going to be a success and you’re going to be able to say I got a bit closer to the person I want to be because I took that risk.”


It was a real privilege to sit down and chat with Gaby, and I hope that her words and her work at Talk Twenties inspires you as much as it inspired me. For more information about her podcast and blog, head over to the Talk Twenties website.

 

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