Adele Barlow: Former Escapist Turned Writer And Marketeer Talks Being Funny To Get Sh*T Done


Adele Barlow, early employee of the Escape the City movement turned writer, talks to us about her motivations to embrace change and get sh*t done.

1. Tell us about you – what motivates you?
Funny people who get shit done! Positive people. Artists who understand economics. Smart women and men who love smart women. Those who don’t take themselves too seriously and yet excel. People who pragmatically challenge the status quo and appreciate the gift of being alive. I love people who love life and I’m inspired when I see people stretching to be the highest possible version of themselves. I’m motivated by knowing that none of us are here forever. As morbid as it sounds, death keeps things in perspective.
2. What does a day in the life of you look like?
I’m usually up early to work out as mornings are the only time I get to sweat. I work in marketing for Virgin by day and the rest of the time I work on Outbound Books. After work I’ll usually be with friends or working on my writing. I write for the Huffington Post and I’ve also written two books for Escape the City (where I used to work). I’m currently working on a book about the realities of being an ambitious young woman in the 21st century, called Birds on Mars. I also spend an abnormal amount of time on Whatsapp voice notes since some of my closest friends are scattered around the globe.
3. What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done? 
Anything courageous has pretty much been by accident… moving countries? Starting businesses? Actually, walking into a therapist’s office seven years ago. I had just finished college and started a business with a best friend and getting an objective perspective from someone older and wiser helped a lot. Everyone’s a little messed up and I’m no different, but I was determined to refine my own bullshit radar as much as I could, so that I could ideally spread minimal emotional bullshit in my own life. At its best, therapy explores important ideas and can be a tool that turns you into a more loving version of yourself.
4. Tell us about your relationship to Change?
Change has always been a constant. So change and I get along well. Really well. Probably too well. I had a very fluid upbringing in terms of global mobility – Mum’s Malaysian, Dad’s from New Zealand, I was born and raised in Hong Kong but also lived in Auckland, Melbourne, and Wellington. A lot of goodbyes at a young age means that you become quasi-bohemian in your outlook (“all we have is today” etc). I’ve always seen change as an opportunity – and I believe in looking forward, not back.
5. Who is your role model and why?
My brother. We’ve been best friends since we were younger and he’s got a lot of qualities that I admire (funny, gets shit done, celebrates life). I used to get inspired by strangers like Jon Stewart and Marisa Meyer but the older I get, the more I find inspiration in those closest to me, in how they approach challenges and the amount of love they put out into the world. I rate both my parents – they’ve had pretty cool global lives and have been married for almost 40 years, which is nuts. My mother’s heart and my father’s ambition are the root of many of the good things in my life, I’d say.
6. What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve read, seen or done in the last month?
A friend is fairly obsessed with David Hieatt and I recently came across his website – this page is great – Each of the quotes resonated, especially this Michelangelo one: “The danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Also, the blog WhatShouldWeCallMe is hilarious –