The Heroine’s Journey of Hilija Russo

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

I love the creative side of my work. Creating is like going on a mental trip, bumping into unknown thoughts, new images, new expressive forms, and sometimes even parts of yourself.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

A dinner with good wine and excellent food, preferably at home, with my partner and our dearest friends. Perfect happiness, to me, means sharing the beauty of life.

What is my greatest fear?

I find it hard to accept the idea of loss. My greatest fear is outliving who I love.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

I am as precise in my job, as absent-minded in private life. I find it unbearable to always forget where I put stuff. My head is in the clouds.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

I admire every professional who achieves their goals with joy, passion and dedication.

What is my greatest extravagance?

I have many extravagances, at least in the eyes of others. Among others: I can perfectly speak backwards; I feel physically satisfied by geometries; I never set the alarm clock, for I take it to be a form of legalized violence.

On what occasion would I lie?

I am a very honest person. I only lie about unimportant things which would cause useless suffering to others.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

Working as a freelance is extremely difficult, because companies often tend not to respect deadlines for payments, especially in Italy. But the only thing I can’t really stand about my job is having to deal with unprofessional people. However, this is something that can happen in any other job.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

Many years ago, in collaboration with the Italian independent agency Enfants Terribles, I created a TV commercial for “Fondazione Alzheimer Italia”:

During a related event, I had the chance to meet the famous Italian film director Pupi Avati. He congratulated me and my art director, Marìka Mangafà, for the creative idea. Getting a compliment from a great artist like him, who works in a different field than mine, is been a huge satisfaction. Even greater than it is winning awards in my field, as I did a dozen times throughout my career, mostly at a national level. Well, but if I won a Cannes Lions Award that would be another story.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I am very reflective. Over years, I’ve been working a great deal to improve and to increase my life quality. Today, I can say I like and accept myself as I am.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

When a client tells me: “excellent job, that fits the brand value proposition”. In advertising, creativity should always go hand in hand with a strategic view.

Where would I most like to live?

It’s you who choose a city, not vice-versa. Since three years, I’ve chosen to go back living in my hometown, Genova. Here, I have an excellent life quality, thanks to the sea and to a slower life pace. I like Milano as well, where I’ve lived for 12 years and I often go to work meetings at most of my clients’ headquarters. Being a freelance, I have the opportunity to travel a lot and work remotely. This way, I balance living in a relatively small city with the inspiration and energy coming from other environments. If I should live abroad, I would certainly pick Chicago. It’s an amazing city, and I’m totally in love with it.

What is my most treasured possession?

Freedom. When we are in a bad mood, we take it for granted how lucky we are to be free to choose what to do, where to go, with whom to spend our time.

What is my most marked characteristic?

Sociability. I have a great many friends and acquaintances, and I love meeting new people.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

The old town. I love getting lost in Genova’s “vicoli” and letting their charming decadence inspire me.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

I love small neat restaurants, where I can find good quality wine and great food, such as “Ombre rosse”.

What books influenced my life and how?

There’s many of them, from comics to poetry to works in moral philosophy and clinical psychology. I have degrees in both areas, and I’ve always preferred non-fiction over fiction. To those interested in my work, I would recommend “The craft of copywriting” by Alastair Crompton, a pleasurable book which led me to choose my job.

Who are my favorite writers?

Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Márquez, Cesare Pavese, Chuck Palahniuk, Agota Kristof. Just to mention a few of them.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, to reach my deepest spiritual dimension. Bella Ciao, to remember my country’s history. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata nr. 14, to experience the melancholy of leaving this world. And maybe, at the end of the day, a popular song performed by Goran Bregović: I’d like to be cheerful even in the face of death. As well as grateful for a life that I’ve received, but also chosen every day.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

I watch many TV series. I like strong characters, like Annalise Keating/Viola Davis from How to Get Away with Murder, or with marked sense of humor, like Lady Violet/Maggie Smith from Downton Abbey. If I have to think to a movie hero, it comes to mind Guido, the main character of “La vita è bella”, performed by Roberto Benigni. Guido is clumsy, but also kind and humane, and he manages to make life tolerable to his little boy in a concentration camp. As for novels, I’ve always been impressed by Lucinda, the key-character of “Town House” by Tish Cohen. Lucinda is a little girl, who is overlooked by her parents but whose strength of spirit makes her capable to bring joy in her next-door agoraphobic neighbor’s life.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

Men and women who left a positive mark in human history, such as Gandhi, Einstein, Margherita Hack and Leonardo Da Vinci, just to mention a few of them.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime?

Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho. I’ve seen it recently, and it has conquered me in all respects.

What role plays art in my life and work?

To me art is a source of inspiration, but also a personal pleasure. I am passionate about contemporary art, and as a spectator I especially like performing arts and conceptual art. Every time I visit a country, I take some time out to visit public museums and private galleries. Whenever I visit the Venice Art Biennale, I feel happy like a child in a funfair. In my free time I dabble in doing art myself. In addition to writing poetry, I make abstract geometric B&W ink paper illustrations and take street photographs. Here is my personal website:

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My mother. She has always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted.

Whom would I like to work with in 2019/2020?

I’d like to work with a successful film director, like Spike Lee.

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2019/2020?

I am open to any new encounter and opportunity.

What project, in 2019/2020, am I looking forward to work on?

I’d like to collaborate with a brand working in pet economy. I love animals, and especially pets. I’d also love to put my professionality at the service of a not-for-profit human rights organization.

Where can you see me or my work in 2019/2020?

The easiest way to see my work is googling me. On Behance, I have a portfolio which collects some of my most creative adv.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

Passion is a fire which never extinguishes. I’ve been working for 13 years, and I am as passionate as the first day.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? 

Marìka Mangafà, Freelance Art Director:

Francesca Anna Salmaso, Head of Marketing and Communication, IN’s Mercato, Gruppo Pam:

How can you contact me?

Write me at:

Add me on LinkedIN:

Visit my website:

Here follows a message of Peter de Kuster, founder of The Heroine’s Journey 


Are you a creative leader or creative professional looking to develop your business skills and storytelling?

Amidst today’s uncertainty, it is more important than ever to reconnect with yourself and others, develop your creative business, and build your story. Dive deep into your unique business style and areas for growth with the coaching of Peter de Kuster.


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    You are a creative leader or creative professional  who is interested in developing yourself, your business, and your story.

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    You are aware that there are no quick fixes. Learning is a journey that works when you are fully committed to it. Coaching can bring awareness and help you navigate, but in the end it’s you who is in charge of your growth.

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    You want to learn more about how to resource yourself, learn about blind spots, and get feedback.

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    You are curious and want to engage in online learning.

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    You are motivated to work in-between sessions on yourself (e.g. working on homework assignments that will help you develop new storytelling, skills, and behaviors).


The Heroine’s Journey Coaching is all about your development. To make the most out of your sessions, we ask you to prepare topics to work on with Peter. These topics can serve as a starting point for further in-depth exploration with Peter.

These coaching topics typically resonate with the creative leaders Peter works with:

How can i tell the most powerful story possible about myself and my creative business?

How can I handle self promotion and marketing of my creative business better?

How do can I stay authentic and with focus when having difficult conversations with potential clients?

What are my creative values and how do I align these with my business values?

How can I manage my time and energy better?

How can I radiate confidence to my clients while feeling anxious inside?

How can I steer myself towards creative excellence without becoming rigid?

About Peter de Kuster

Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’s Journey & Hero’s Journey project,  a storytelling firm which helps creative professionals to create careers and lives based on whatever story is most integral to their lives and careers (values, traits, skills and experiences). Peter’s approach combines in-depth storytelling and marketing expertise, and for over 20 years clients have found it effective with a wide range of creative business issues.


Peter is writer of the series The Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey books, he has an MBA in Marketing,  MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.

individual coaching for leaders


The Heroine’s Journey Coaching online sessions last 50 minutes and the fee is Euro 189 excluding VAT per session. The Heroine’s Journey Coaching is suitable for people at any stage in their career.


Who can sign up for The Heroine’s Journey online coaching?

Creative leaders and creative professionals who wish to improve their business story and develop their business skills and mindset.

Should I choose 1:1 coaching?

Our The Heroine’s Journey experiences in world cities allow you to learn not only from the coach but also from your peers. For the small group coaching (1 – 4 people), we have selected important, relevant topics that we find regularly come up for creative professional: purpose, storytelling, creative confidence, self promotion, time & money and resilience.

If you would prefer to work alone or on a different topic, individual coaching is a better fit for you.

What language do we speak in the coaching sessions?


Can I buy coaching for my organization?

Yes, you can! We support many organizations around the world with their coaching needs. Please contact us for more information.

Can I bring my own topics?

Yes, for individual coaching you get to choose your own topic.

Are coaching sessions confidential?

Yes. Peter will not share anything that is discussed in the coaching sessions.

Where will the coaching sessions take place?

Sessions will take place online (as per the times we live in) via an online tool like Zoom or Skype. Peter will let you know.

How do I sign up?

Send Peter a mail to to start booking your coaching sessions.

How do I pay?

After you send the mail, you will receive an email with a link to pay.

How do I book and reschedule sessions?

Once we’ve received your payment, Peter will contact you and book your coaching sessions. He will also support you with rescheduling sessions if needed.

What is your cancellation policy?

Individual coaching sessions can be postponed up to one week before the session.

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