Working hard so women can make the first move

Since Bumble's users are on the app round the clock, editorial director Clare O'Connor makes sure she is too

Our series What Do People Do All Day? takes a look at the work life, lunch habits, and downtime of people across different industries.

Name: Clare O’Connor
Title/company: Editorial director, Bumble
Years on the job: 1 year, 6 months
City: New York

The last cover story that Clare O’Connor wrote for Forbes, where she was a reporter for more than seven years, was a piece on Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder and CEO of Bumble. The feature ran in December 2017, and by the next month, O’Connor became the dating app’s editorial director. “I spent some time in Austin at the company headquarters, and I was just so impressed by what she’d built in such a short amount of time that when she called me, it was a pretty easy sell,” O’Connor says.

Since joining Bumble, O’Connor has released Bumble Mag in partnership with Hearst Magazines (the magazine’s frequency is still TBD, but she hopes to put out a second issue this year), and she’s about to revamp the brand’s content hub. “I just want to see people really engaging with and getting the most out of our product,” O’Connor says.

“Bumble put something out into the world that is supposed to make women feel safer online, which is huge for me,” she says. “I spent years being harassed as a woman who works on the internet, and I think if we can make women feel more confident and safe when they’re making the first move—whether in romance or friendship or networking—then I’m happy.”

Below, O’Connor gives a glimpse into her typical day.

My morning routine is… Centered around Grady’s Cold Brew. It’s delicious. I buy it in bulk, and have also become an oat milk acolyte. I also listen to NPR’s Up First podcast, which is a great morning digest. Sometimes I take an early spin class. Work doesn’t factor until after that.

I first check my email… At around 8 a.m., as well as checking my work Slack and Twitter for news. I check Instagram too, and it’s never for any good reason. (Occasionally I become annoyed with myself and delete the app; I only ever last a couple days, max.) I’ll read anything from a colleague that’s been sent since the day before, and flag anything requiring an immediate reply to be handled on the subway ride in. PR pitches and requests for favors and the like wait till later.  

The first Slack message I got today: “Omg you took the red-eye???” Yeah, an 11 p.m. flight from Palm Springs to JFK on a Sunday always seems like an OK idea when you’re booking it!

I spend my commute… Listening to Spotify or a podcast and drafting replies to emails. If I’m in the middle of a writing project, I’ll work on that in the Notes app. (I just checked and I have 376 drafts in Notes, which seems excessive. Some are just lists of ideas for initiatives I’d like to get going at Bumble. It’s an exciting time for our small-but-growing content team.)

When I first sit down to work… I go through my Google Calendar to make sure I know what my day looks like. I make a note of which calls and meetings might require extra preparation, and make sure I’m not going to forget any coffee meetings or errands I need to run.

I have a habit of… Glancing at, then deleting, all my Google Alerts. I still have one on my name; I spent more than seven years as a staff writer at Forbes and—like many young women journalists—received my fair share of hate, often when covering social issues or anything even tangentially related to feminism. I always wanted to know which sites were siccing their readers on me. Happily, nowadays those alerts mostly keep me posted on Irish sports and the burgeoning career of a TV actress with the same name.  

The thing most likely to break my focus: A WhatsApp message from my mother in the UK. She’s never met an emoji she doesn’t love. She also sends me adorable photos of the family Chihuahua—a welcome and, frankly, sometimes necessary distraction.

The messaging services I always keep on: Email and Slack. I’m trying to be better about only checking them every few hours; Bumble is encouraging us to be more deliberate in our use of these tools. (I hear Gen Z doesn’t really “do” email, and I’m wildly jealous.)

The last time I daydreamed… I was almost certainly thinking about where in SoHo I’d be spending $20 on a mediocre lunch.

My thoughts on videoconferencing: “Hi! Yeah, I’m working from home. Sorry about the hoodie and no-makeup situ. Oh, you can’t hear me? Wait, I’m checking the sound input. I keep forgetting to take my laptop to the Apple Store. OK, now I’m hearing an echo on your end. That’s better, but the picture is glitchy. And why does it sound like Sam is 10,000 feet below sea level?”

I take my phone calls… Outside, usually. I like to pace, so I often walk around our block. We’re on Mercer [in New York City’s SoHo]; if it’s warm out, there’ll be influencers doing Instagram shoots in the middle of the cobbled street while cars just have to wait. God bless all those IG besties and boyfriends.

Last time I napped at work: Not since I was 22, working in London in PR, and sneaking a few minutes of shut-eye under a desk because I’d been out till 4 a.m. the night before. These days it’s more like an episode of Veep and some tea, tbh.

I stop reading work emails at… Probably 9:30 p.m.? It’s a work in progress! I’m trying to cut down on phone time in the evening.

The last thing I do before bed: Check Slack one last time. Bumble’s users are on our app around the clock, so we do occasionally have urgent concerns to attend to. Even if it isn’t something I’m directly responsible for, I like to know what’s going on.

My Slack pet peeve: When folks bombard a channel with responses versus starting a thread. The notifications give me anxiety.  

My preferred email sign-off: “Thank you in advance!” Can’t hurt to be gracious.

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