Life in the limelight often comes with a lot of underhanded learning and growing moments that the public does not see. Olga Iserlis, founder of Adagio Events, an organiser of high-profile lifestyle events and marketing in Singapore, can attest to that.
In her new “Little Black Book”, she offers numerous fun nuggets of wisdom, drawn from her own experiences and re-packaged for others’ easy consumption. Co-published by Bynd Artisan, she muses about fashion, beauty, etiquette, tradition and self-care with endearing wit. In an open letter to herself and everyone who reads her book, she invites readers to engage more actively with their surroundings, all to better navigate this modern world, manifesting the best version of themselves.
Hi Olga! How did the Instagram love notes that led to your Little Black Book come about?
I started to share my thoughts and emotions more frequently and openly on social media during the pandemic. My musings attracted many followers, and I encouraged them to share their thoughts with themselves and others.
What made you start writing notes and putting them on social media?
I have always loved journaling, putting my observations and thoughts on paper. During the pandemic, I had more time and, perhaps, more courage to look into myself deeply. Although I was encouraged by those around me to be more active on social media, I was cautious to post pretty photos without expressing my thoughts. It just did not make much sense to me. I wanted to share, discuss, engage, and challenge — this was the only way I could justify my presence on social media to myself. The pages of my Little Black Book are the conversations I have with myself on ideas and thoughts I find interesting, relevant, and important.
Would you say that doing that helped you better understand yourself too?
Absolutely. After all, I am having conversations with myself, and that means to question, observe, react and learn about the receiving end.
Did you encounter any difficulties trying to cement any of those messages/advice/notes into paper?
Well, as I said in one of my captions — all of us at times are at a loss for words. I certainly have had moments like that as well, and still do. But, the process of putting this project together engaged not just my mind, but also my curiosity. It helped me connect with others in a more authentic way because these conversations help people open up and share about themselves, just like I have been doing. I also had a great opportunity to collaborate with the absolutely wonderful team from Bynd Artisan. Without their support, the Little Black Book would not be the same.
It must have been hard to settle on something that cannot be changed once printed, even though our understanding of life and ourselves is constantly in a state of change. The fact that you included blank pages for the reader to feel empowered by their own words tells me that you are a very thoughtful person. What methods do you use to empower yourself to be bolder, beyond the use of these written reminders?
Yes, words can not be changed once printed; but that’s the beauty of spontaneity! Our thought process changes and evolves every day, and so does our mood, age and stages of our life. The blank pages are for my readers to add their own thoughts and start a conversation with themselves. The pages on the right hand side are filled with historical facts, humorous anecdotes, and unexpected information. I feel that these pages pique our curiosity and help us to engage more with ourselves and others. And of course, share our thoughts and some interesting facts, as well.
You moved from St Petersburg to the “City of Dreams” and really started to dream big there. What was something from that period of your life that inspired/inspires you to pursue your dreams today?
I came to America with my mother when I was a young girl. Everything was completely foreign to me, and the challenges that I had to go through during that particular period of my life built character and made me appreciate the simple things in life. Dreaming big at that time of my life simply meant surviving in a new country, with a foreign language, and with very little money. Every small step in that period of my life was driven by dreaming big. Dreaming big was a survival mechanism for my small family and me.
Do you think there is anything the young women of today need to understand about the real world with regards to dreaming big?
Absolutely! I believe that the courage to go through life in an authentic way is a huge part of dreaming big. To believe in one’s own ability to lead the life of our dreams, no matter what these dreams might be; to have an open mind, open heart; to learn that simple things can make a huge difference — all these will open the world to us, women or not, in an exciting and gratifying way.
Your expertise in event planning must have taught you plenty of lessons about dealing with people too. What has been the most memorable lesson that you’ve picked up from your career so far?
One of the most important lessons I have learned from engaging with so many different people around me — clients, my team, and people from all works of life — is patience, humility, and calmness. I have realized that stressing about things is really of no use. Since I am responsible for the project’s success, I have trained myself to remain level-headed on most occasions. But this of course comes with a tremendous amount of hard work.
And your conversations with many world-renowned personalities on IGTV — how has that been?
IGTV has been my second “pandemic era” passion project. I have been very lucky to be able to meet so many incredible people throughout my career. These people have become my friends, and some even family (my episode with Marc). Through sharing their life journey, I have come to realize that their insights and facts are truly extraordinary and inspiring. It is very gratifying for me to talk to these people and share our conversations with the multicultural community here. I have already planned a number of episodes for the following months ahead, and am looking forward to making each one of them.
Did you find anything interesting about how similar or different these people live?
We all create communities of like-minded people around us, and my friends have certainly come together because they look at the world with their “eyes wide open”. In the success of their own personal stories that they share with others and the kindness they express, I see that we all are very different. But I strongly believe that core values are what truly matter, and is the major thread that connects us all.
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