The world of stars and celebrities seems to be something unreachable to most of us. A galaxy far far away, the one which we have read about in the newspapers or we have heard about on TV. A lot of us follow our favourites’ successes with bated breath or count down till a new scandal appears to have some fun. Why are we so much interested in the lives of people related to culture, business or just in weirdos? Pop-culture creates certain patterns, which have become a kind of indicators of how we perceive fashion and good taste in different areas of public life. These creations seem to be something incredible and unattainable to most of us, that’s why we devour greedily all new information related to famous people, who have gained success in their lives. Exactly, the earlier mentioned success has become an indicator of who you are and how others tend to perceive you.
What if you could use a huge sieve … to separate the wheat from the chaff? Who wouldn’t like to have a chat with widely known and respected people? The ones who achieved their success thanks to hard work and determination? Who wouldn’t like to enter their world to see that these people are just like us, and the difference between them and us is just that they weren’t scared to chase their dreams? My today’s interviewee Sylwia, who is the author of a web portal called Cultural Talks, came to a conclusion that through interesting conversations focused around the world of culture, she could make this sphere more accessible to her readers, the world they have always been dreaming of.
Passion Piece: Could you tell my readers a few words about yourself?
Sylwia: Well … I’m Sylwia Cegieła and I’ve been managing a web portal called Cultural Talks for about 3 years now, so I invite you to visit me whenever you’ve got time (laughter) and whenever you feel like to. I love people and having chats with them, that’s why I came up with an idea to run a journalist service. Moreover, I read books. I arrange and carry out interviews with authors of Polish and foreign novels. I also cooperate with one of the local newspapers on a daily basis. You can get to know more about my activities from my facebook fanpage. I think that’s all.
Passion Piece: What inspired you to set up a blog?
Sylwia: Journalism has always been somewhere in my heart and soul. I’ve loved listening to interviews since I was a child, I’ve also enjoyed watching any types of galas. I admired Grażyna Torbicka and other journalists. I love the world of art and culture. In the past this sphere seemed to me rather closed and unattainable to an average mortal. I thought that there are completely different people on the other side of the screen. This world seemed to me one big cosmos, however after some years – in a time of modern media – you can stay in touch with them. It’s enough that you log into social media, type a famous person’s surname and you can message him or her. It’s easy, isn’t it? Stars are now at your fingertips. You just have to want it badly enough. So I decided to make use of it. I set up a web portal and I try to win interesting people over to talk. You need to know that Cultural Talks don’t deal only with culture, but also with work, cuisine and sport. I’ve been seriously thinking about parenting recently. Everything is developing and I’m trying to keep up.
Passion Piece: How did you come up with the name of your portal?
Sylwia: Oh, it’s quite complicated (laughter). At the beginning it wasn’t really supposed to be a portal, but my virtual CV in which I would only publish information related to my work. However, after a short period of time, I noticed that this service was too static and I started slowly adding new features. First I changed its layout and I published music interviews. It was a time when I was working on the Blogger domain, so it wasn’t too professional. It wasn’t till the portal expanded and my PR acquaintances talked me into buying a domain, though, that I really started running a professional website. I decided then to add some new categories. I was thinking about its name for around a year and a half. I was thinking, and thinking and … I finally came up with the right name. In this way I created Cultural Talks. My first intention was to highlight the word culture itself, because I wanted everyone to associate my portal with this sphere. However, I’ve been seriously thinking of changing its logotype and harmonizing its name. I think I’ll do so, as my website’s content is totally different from the one, which was my original idea.
Passion Piece: How has contact with famous people influenced your life?
Sylwia: Honestly? No one or almost no one has influenced my life so far, as I carry out my interviews via the Internet. Of course, I’m in touch with many well-known and less known people. Facebook helps me in that a lot (to tell the truth I don’t really know what I would do without having my facebook account). Without social media, many talks would never take place. In fact, I think none of them. I’m in contact with other people thanks to kindness of my past interlocutors. Ah no, I’m sorry, maybe keeping in touch with famous people has had some impact on my life. If it weren’t for chats with some stars or celebrities, I wouldn’t have had a chance to develop and cooperate with publishers while promoting books of established and beloved authors known from the front pages of newspapers. And life? Well … everything is about my portal and I think that after almost 4 years I couldn’t imagine my life without running Cultural Talks. I love doing it. Although sometimes something doesn’t work out. I’m fed up with work, because someone didn’t send me the interview on time or didn’t send it at all, a manager didn’t answer the phone … Oh yes, this kind of situations also happen. It demands lots of patience, time and work on myself. I’m constantly learning, developing, I guess it’s all about this, right?
Passion Piece: Which of the interviews was the most memorable for you?
Sylwia: You know … I don’t really have such an interview. I like all of them, but I love those unexpected ones the most, which would probably never happen if not the work carried out so far. I’m not going to put anybody first, but I’ve got several dozen of ‘pearls’, which I think will bring something more into my life than just a chat about nothing from broadsheets. Of course, I don’t criticize anyone, as everyone wants to have a job, but personally I always aim at having unique and valuable conversations, and I try to make both sides satisfied.
Passion Piece: What’s the most difficult in the journalist’s work?
Sylwia: Oh my! Now you killed me – journalism in my case is not very serious most of the times. Lots of people claim that it’s an easy way to pass your time. Someone once told me that I don’t really need to do anything besides thinking of the right questions, and the rest is done by my interlocutors – they answer my questions in a written form, and that’s it. They think that only writing articles is really demanding and time-consuming. Well, it doesn’t really look like that. A good interview demands research, reading some information about a given person from the past year, and very often even a few past years. Then you must think of a topic and a general outline of a conversation, as you shouldn’t talk about nothing if you invite someone to an interview. The other person must feel like spending time on writing the answers, and it’s not so easy looking at the busy schedules of some artists or other specialists from different businesses. They often suffer from lack of time, they are really busy and do me a favour through writing those amazing and truly substantive answers. So you should appreciate their merit through asking interesting questions. When a given interview is no longer on-line, another problem appears, as you never know if a particular text interests your readers. You need to find the right channels of distribution, that’s why I spend hours on promoting my website to encourage people to read my articles. It looks like that when you don’t monetize your portal. I hope that it will get easier with time. Disappointment and discouragement also happen quite often, especially when you see that a given interview wasn’t received by readers the way you’d like to. I think you also know this feeling, don’t you? What can we do? It’s a sign of the times.
Passion Piece: Who is your biggest inspiration?
Sylwia: I don’t know. I can’t really focus on a specific person. I think there are no authorities among whom you should look for an inspiration. Maybe a presenter I had mentioned before.
Passion Piece: Can you imagine your life without culture?
Sylwia: Actually I think it would be unthinkable for most of us. Culture means richness, without which no development would be possible. There would be no civilization. The world would be miserable, monotonous and very silent. Imagine that you cannot listen to music, watch films or read books. You would feel weird, wouldn’t you? Even in the times of past civilizations the notion of culture had existed, but in a different form. There was a theatre, painting, songs passed from mouth to mouth. Imagine that you are deprived of that. It’s as if you didn’t have past. The world would be indigent without music with all its genres, without films, beautiful words of poets or writers, and finally without architecture and painting.
Passion Piece: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Sylwia: Oh, it’s a really difficult question. My dream would be to say that my service will keep developing and will be still functioning in 10 years’ time, but will I persevere until then? We will see. I won’t read the tea leaves, because I don’t believe in such things. However, I believe in hard work and persistence, everything else will probably follow. I do hope it works out.
Passion Piece: Which motto would you like to share with my readers?
Sylwia: Currently I’m inspired by two wise thoughts: ‘The best revenge is massive success.’ – Frank Sinatra – quite controversial, but in my opinion very true.
‘If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.’ – Michael Jordan. These words present my sporty feel well that makes me fight and never give up, which often is the case when it comes to other people, who give up too easily. Without such an attitude even the smallest success isn’t possible.
Passion Piece: Thank you very much for this conversation. I hope it will become an inspiration for others not to put their dreams off until later. I wish you persistence and continued success in running Cultural Talks.
A conversation has always been the best way to get to know another person. That’s why, you shouldn’t waste your opportunities to talk to the ones, who are worth your time, about all the beautiful things which you can be offered by the world. If you only believe in the fact that there are no impossible things and everything or almost everything is within your reach, you will become a fully free and constantly developing person.
See you around!
Website you should visit: www.sylwiacegiela.pl
Photo by: KULTURAlne Rozmowy