Here at The Kerplunk, we had a chance to interview superstar Hannah Berner. Berner was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up playing competitive tennis professionally and for the University of Wisconsin. Currently, Hannah works as a video producer, writing, directing, editing and acting in viral comedy videos. She also plays a crucial role in BravoTV’s Summer House. Take a look at the interview below with our editor-in-chief, Shazir Mucklai, and Hannah Berner.
HB: Growing up, I was known as a tennis player. On paper, my biggest accomplishments were getting ranked top 15 in the national, winning a championship on the boy’s high school tennis team, and getting a full sports scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. Now, I’m known for my funny videos and tweets on Instagram, my podcast Berning in Hell, and being on Bravo’s Summer House. I think my biggest accomplishment was quitting my marketing desk job at 25 with nothing lined up to start making comedy videos. 2 years later, I had my first live comedy show at Caroline’s on Broadway and I feel like I’m finally doing what makes me happy.
SM: How did you start out
HB: I was an athlete my whole life and it taught me discipline, trusting your intuition, having self esteem, controlling your ego, and self care. However, competing always gave me a lot of anxiety and even though I was skilled at tennis, I always felt like I had a creative side that I was suppressing. After tennis, I went into sales and marketing but I was bored, miserable, and may or may not have cried in the bathroom a lot. At 25, I quit my job and started interning for free at a sports video website until I got a freelancing position at Betches.com
to be their video producer. I ended up growing their department with 100+ videos with over a million views, dozens of branded partnerships, and found my own comedy voice. At 26, I started filming Summer House and started my own comedy mental health podcast Berning in Hell. I discovered that I like to win on the tennis court for other people, but I like to create for myself so that’s what I want to continue to do.
SM: How do you structure your days?
HB: I love sleep, so I always try to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Some people can function on less, but I have to listen to what my body wants. You don’t have to be on the treadmill at 5:30am
to be considered a “hustler”. Coffee makes me anxious and jittery and people make fun of me when I drink decaf, I like to make a smoothie in the morning with spinach, banana, and mango. If I’m on the run, I typically get a chai latte. When I feel ready to take on the world, I check my phone. I need to check my emails, respond to Instagram DMs, plan my tweets/posts/promotions for the day, and clap back at twitter trolls (just kidding, I just like the nice comments about Summer House and my podcast). All my days are different, which I like. Sometimes I’m recording an episode of Berning In Hell, shooting a video for a brand or my own Instagram, editing a video, or doing press for Summer House. In a perfect world, I would like to go to the gym or yoga at least 4 times during the week but sometimes I let my crazy random work schedule get in the way. Because a lot of my life revolves around social media, I can feel like I am working up until I close my eyes to go to sleep but I do try to find time during the day to put my phone away, even if it’s just for drinks with a friend or spending quality time petting my cat butter.
SM: Where and how do you work best? (If it applies to your topic.)
HB: I love working in coffee shops. They immediately make me feel 10 times cooler than I am, I can get jacked up on a chai latte, and be surrounded by other creative individuals. I am guilty at working from my bed sometimes, but a coffee shop is where I can get in the zone and feel like I have a fun office without annoying coworkers asking me how my weekend was. Also, in a perfect world, I’d love to be able to work with a standing desk but then I remember I hate standing. Overall, I just want to be comfortable without too much distraction.
SM: How do you solve [common problem – productivity, scheduling, marketing, networking, reducing overwhelm]?
HB: My life is hectic because I make my own schedule so I always try to put everything that I want to do in my calendar, even if it’s taking time to nap. If it’s not in my calendar, I won’t remember it, and it won’t get done. I also realized that when you have your own schedule and you’re driven, it’s very easy to overbook yourself. I’m realizing that it’s okay to say no and there is always another week that you can have that meeting, and no one will hate you for it.
SM: Networking has been integral to my career for podcast guests, actors in videos, and social media collabs. It can be exhausting to go to tons of networking events or to DM people on instagram to try to establish a relationship. My biggest piece of advice with networking is to not force anything. It’s better to have 5 people that you know that you really connect with than 100 emails of people who don’t give a shit about you.
HB: My biggest advice with marketing is to always have the perspective of the consumer. When you are looking for a new jacket or an app to make your life easier, understand how you made your decisions and integrate that into your marketing strategy. One thing I learned from seeing tweets go viral is that if you think a certain way, others do too. Lastly, be very observant of all new technologies that people are using around you. Digital marketing is evolving every second so always keep an eye open to new media.
SM: What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?
HB: Growing up, I tried to win at life by listening to the rules society had made and what I thought people around me wanted. True success is listening to your intuition and doing what you want to do. You will never be more passionate, successful, or happy doing anything else. That “thing” might change overtime, but it’s just important to keep checking in on yourself and what you want.
SM: What’s the best advice you ever received?
HB: My dad always told me a old jewish proverb: “Ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.” I think adversity is something that we are scared of, but if we learn to embrace it, life becomes less scary. I try to think of all my obstacles and struggles as just a part of my story that made it way more interesting to get to where I am today. It also helps me connect with people who may be going through similar struggles and I can look them in the eye and tell them that they will be okay.
SM: Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
HB: My family inspired my drive, humor, and all my jokes about daddy issues. I was inspired by athletes like Kenyon Martin who played basketball fearlessly and comedian Chelsea Handler who was so smart, witty, and refreshingly bitchy. Also, any woman who is an entrepreneur gives me belief that I can live the rest of my life without ever having a boss again. That’s the goal.