Photo by Vali Barbulescu
Diana Cosmin does her best writing 30,000 feet in the sky. As an editor and blogger in Bucharest, Romania, Diana travels abroad at least a few times a month. She has visited more than 50 countries, including four countries in just one week. “I love being on an airplane, it’s my favorite place to be in the whole world,” she says. “It’s where I have the best inspiration.”
In a different life, Diana says, she would pursue an aviation career like her grandfather. Instead, she’s editor-in-chief of two specialty magazines for Forbes Romania. She and a team of six writers cover lifestyle topics like art, architecture, fashion, and travel. “We interview famous people and we uncover new, emerging talents,” she says. “We pick their brains, and we analyze and understand trends.”
With about 100,000 online readers and 8,000 print subscribers, ForbesLife is the best-selling magazine in its category in Romania. It’s a small market, she says, “but it’s dynamic and the readers are loyal.”
Writing has always been Diana’s greatest passion. “It’s who I am,” she says. Even so, her path to Forbes wasn’t clear cut. She began her career with hopes of becoming a diplomat.
She’s fluent in four languages and earned a bachelor’s degree in international business from a Romanian university while working in public relations for a textile exporter. A few years later, she enrolled in Webster’s Global MA in International Relations program. “It fit me like a glove, at the exact right time,” she says.
“The program was a door opened to the world,” Diana says. “Different nationalities, different countries, different professors every few months, different organizations, different topics to tackle. There was always something exciting to look forward to and I loved that.”
During her time at Webster, Diana had a wide variety of professional seminars to prepare her for a future in diplomacy. She spent time at the United Nations and World Trade Organization in Geneva, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, the International Criminal Court in The Hague, NATO’s European headquarters in Brussels, and international think tank Chatham House in London.
After graduating, she applied for diplomatic jobs with several Romanian institutions. What happened next surprised her. Years before attending Webster, Diana had submitted her resume to a famous headhunter. Later, he passed it along to Forbes without her knowledge and they called her in for an interview.
“I went with no expectation whatsoever,” she says. “I was curious, but I actually told them I wasn’t available.”
The then editor-in-chief of the magazine liked Diana enough to offer her a full-time job. To her own surprise, Diana accepted. “It just felt right,” she says. “It may sound like a Hollywood-movie-scene, but the very first time I entered their meeting room, where they were discussing the first issue, I felt at home. I knew I wanted to stay there.”
A Dream Job
Photo by Vali Barbulescu
Diana started at Forbes as a reporter, covering the stock exchange and pensions. She wanted more, however. “I was also keen on telling stories about the places I had been to and the wonderful people I had met, with some of the ideas inspired by what I experienced during the MA program,” she says.
So, Diana submitted a few ideas for the lifestyle section of the magazine. When the audience reacted favorably to her content, Forbes executives enlisted her to grow the section into a pilot magazine of its own, ForbesLife.
Now in its sixth year, the monthly lifestyle magazine is going strong. It’s performed so well, in fact, Forbes Romania tasked Diana with launching another title in the same category, the quarterly luxury magazine Up by Forbes.
“It’s the best job in the world and I’m blessed every day to be able to do it,” she says. “What can be more wonderful than to virtually reach out to any person in the world, anyone you admire or you’re curious about, and pick their brain for an hour or so? I’ve learned something from each and every person I ever interviewed. The people I met and the stories I’ve written shaped me as a person.”
Although her career path took an unexpected detour, Diana says her global-focused education has nonetheless served her well in her current job.
“I ended up using all my knowledge and network in a different way, through my articles,” she says. “The program opened the world for me. I made friends all over the world, I traveled, I got exposed to a lot of ideas, I learned about the inner workings of the world as a whole. So when I had to come up with bright ideas for articles, there was always so much inspiration, so many sources to comb through, so many possibilities, so many open doors in my head. It changed me, inside and out.”
She also credits her professors’ feedback for giving her the confidence needed to become a professional writer.
“Interestingly enough, it was the Webster Global MA that proved to me that this truly is the path I should be walking,” she says. “Throughout the program my professors acknowledged my writing style. I still remember the final international relations exam when Dr. Eric Frey gave me my paper back and it had, ‘very nicely written!’ on it. He’s the managing editor of Der Standard and a Financial Times writer. You can imagine how happy I was. And that happened with almost every paper, every exam. So when I went back home I knew, regardless of my job title, I will be a writer for all my life.”
The Power of Blogging
Photo by Vali Barbulescu
Writing for a living isn’t enough for Diana. Her passion runs so deep that she also started a blog, which has quickly attracted a large following. After realizing some of her favorite writing was what she shared on Facebook, Diana decided to turn those personal thoughts into a blog; she launched FineSociety.ro in March of 2015.
“I used to jokingly call it my toy,” she says. “The most frequently asked question I got was, ‘Don’t you have too much work on your hands as it is? You need one more project?’ Well yes, I needed another project — a personal one.”
At Forbes, Diana must be an objective journalist. Fine Society, on the other hand, affords her the opportunity to express her feelings.
“The best compliment ever is when someone leaves me a message saying, ‘I found so much of myself in your words,’ or ‘It’s like you wrote my thoughts, word by word.’ It’s a wonderful feeling,” she says.
Her “toy” now attracts about 80,000 unique viewers each month. Even without an editorial team to support her, Diana updates the blog almost daily and plans to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
“I pour all my heart into it,” she says. “The simple act of writing every day fills me to the brim with joy.”
When Diana talks to journalism students, she always gives them two pieces of advice—start a blog and write every day.
“Everyone who loves writing should have a blog,” she says. “If an aspiring writer’s reaction is something like, ‘it’s too hard,’ ‘I don’t have the time,’ or ‘what should I write about?’, it’s clear to me that the person in front of me won’t be a writer for long.
“Practice makes perfect in any field, but for writers it’s the mantra they should live by,” she continues. “When you don’t have the drive to do that every single day of your life, when you’re not curious and eager to put yourself out there to the people who read your work, step back. There are other careers in the world, and it’s better to find out early what you're cut out for and what you’re not.”
Diana also tells young writers that the future of magazine journalism is bright, despite claims to the contrary.
“I think quality magazines that offer good analysis, interesting and exclusive coverage, and visually enticing pages will always thrive,” she says. “Maybe there will be fewer titles left, but those that make it will last in the long run.”
The good news for journalists, she says, is print media will need to invest in quality writers more than ever. The most important skill a writer—or any job seeker—can have, she says, is curiosity.
“It’s not like 10 or 15 years ago, when you would do an apprenticeship and take adequate time to master every piece of the puzzle,” she says. “Now it’s more a question of diving straight into the deep end. The learning curve is steep and you have to build your own view of the world as you go along. If you don’t approach this hectic order of things with a curious eye, your talent and all other skills are useless.”
Photo by Vali Barbulescu
At just 32 years old, Diana Cosmin has already accomplished more than many people twice her age. She has traveled the globe, spent time at some of the most important governmental organizations in the world, helmed two magazines, and written a book (“Stories of a Heart”). Where will her road take her next?
“You never know,” she says. “As long as writing makes me the happiest I can be, I will continue to write and I will try to make myself better. The day it won’t make me happy anymore, I’ll seek another career, even if I’m 70 by the time. But for the moment, I want to master the thing I love the most—words. That’s my plan and I know that, if I’m true to it and true to myself, good things will unfold, opportunities will arise.”