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“I haven’t met a person who isn’t plagued by some amount of anxiety because of social media — changes need to be made”

Words of Wisdom With Journalist Nina Fern


Words of Wisdom With Journalist Nina Fern


“Dial in some of the features on Instagram or better yet, create a new platform. It’s a great tool but its been taken too far. It messes with your brain, it’s hurting too many people and small businesses, and changing behaviors for the worse. Group Think is real and I’ve seen individuals and businesses destroyed by it for no valid reason. There should be no fake followers and the likes should be for your eyes only. Don’t allow people to repost without permission — we are getting too used to not paying artists, and it creates more noise and diluting of hard working brands. Stop rewarding people if they use all the features. That forces people to be on a hamster wheel 24/7. Lastly, it’s addicting. Turn it off for a few hours a day or week so people can resume their lives. I haven’t met a person who isn’t plagued by some amount of anxiety because of social media — changes need to be made.”


I had the pleasure of interviewing Nina Fern — Founder of The Highly, — a charming and insightful travelogue. Nina, a New Yorker, retired from finance in 2011, and is an entrepreneur who has quickly become the tastemaker amongst sophisticated consumers .

Thank you so much for joining us! Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

The best tip I have was passed onto me right before I launched The Highly: contrary to popular belief, start-up life is a’ slow venture’. I found if you skip your foundation and take shortcuts, it will come back to haunt you. Do your thing, do it right, tune out what others are doing and you will get to exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

 None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My mom’s entire being was about self help, and a 12-step program. As a kid, every time I had a question she would give me a self-help quote and it would infuriate me. I rolled my eyes my entire childhood. But she drilled it into me, and because of that, I’m able to pivot and move past many things quickly. I embrace mistakes and see life as a puzzle, and getting better at being me is entertaining. This way of navigating through the world has allowed me to accomplish things that were against all odds again and again.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We are working on a new awareness campaign and event series, and creating a line of ancillary and lifestyle products. We’re also working on partnerships that will facilitate more transparency in the industry.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I learned in my late teens/early twenties that to be successful you have to be good in all facets of your life. It’s all connected and there are no shortcuts. Once I learned how the universe worked, this was my disciplinary measure for myself and an easier more rewarding way to live.

In every single thing I do, I think about how it affects every person involved, including those I don’t know. I don’t make any moves until there’s a solution that works for everyone, which is always there.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Dial in some of the features on Instagram or better yet, create a new platform. It’s a great tool but its been taken too far. It messes with your brain, it’s hurting too many people and small businesses, and changing behaviors for the worse. Group Think is real and I’ve seen individuals and businesses destroyed by it for no valid reason. There should be no fake followers and the likes should be for your eyes only. Don’t allow people to repost without permission — we are getting too used to not paying artists, and it creates more noise and diluting of hard working brands. Stop rewarding people if they use all the features. That forces people to be on a hamster wheel 24/7. Lastly, it’s addicting. Turn it off for a few hours a day or week so people can resume their lives. I haven’t met a person who isn’t plagued by some amount of anxiety because of social media — changes need to be made.

Can you share your top “5 things you need to know in order to succeed in my industry”? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Stay in your own lane or you will dilute your brand.

Once upon a time, I was able to tell the difference between my favorite publications. Now I surf around, its all the same; same faces, quotes and noise. With the The Highly, we chose to express ourselves through our family of artists and illustrators to keep things special and memorable. If you are telling the same story as everyone else, why bother.

2. Work ethic trumps experience.

Initially I hired talented freelancers whose work was excellent, but their work ethic let me and my business down. There was a lot of back and forth, and a lot of entitlement. I’m now working with two young developers, one in college, and one right out of college, who are flexible, eager and enthusiastic. They helped me build my website in less than a week, listened to my feedback and we thoughtfully discuss when there are changes to be made. They are true professionals.

3. Choose your words carefully, there is no authority.

Bottom line is, the proper clinical research hasn’t been done in cannabis — yet. Some of these methods are new and there should be caution attached. A person in pain is very vulnerable and will do anything. Lets keep it real and realistic or people, as well as the the industry, will suffer. Quality, common sense, moderation and self-awareness is a good rule of thumb.

4. Feedback from the right people is a gift. Leave your ego at home.

As a founder you become too close to things to see it from an outsider’s perspective. Recently, I was told by someone they thought I was a marketing firm and I was being paid for reviews. I was shocked as I thought it was crystal clear The Highly was the exact opposite. Initially I couldn’t understand it, but I respected their vision and put in the time and effort to try and see it from their point of view. Eventually it clicked and I saw it too. I made immediate changes that were subtle but made a huge difference. Honest feedback is a gift.

5. Learn the job so you can guide, appreciate, and not be taken advantage of.

I had to learn social media, SEO and a whole slew of things I had zero interest in. In the beginning, when I didn’t know any of these things I was paying people not realizing they weren’t always doing a good job. Now I know what I need, and how to guide people in the right direction saving time and money. A healthy work culture is essential and when the team is all doing their part, it’s magic.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s in God’s hands. I was/am Type A+ and thought everything was in my hands. I have a real drive and survival skill in me of epic proportions, until I had health issues and I realized there was nothing I could do. When things get rough, this is what I meditate on and let everything else go.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this.

Howard Shultz. I listen to Onward often. Especially when I’ve had a tough day. It’s my reminder of when you run a business with integrity, the reward is there, and the aches and pains are inescapable. There isn’t much Howard hasn’t experienced but he stayed true to himself, his people and his customers every step of the way even when it wasn’t reciprocated. That’s the path that resonates with me, because nothing is worth it, if you can’t sleep at night. I need my sleep. Howard, lunch on me?

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

 thehighly.co / @thehighly_

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