If only it were that easy…but it sure is pretty. Buy this guy
You might have noticed an uptick in my thoughts around careers, leadership and purpose in the past few months. I’ll let you in on a little secret, this week, I wrapped up a six month women-only leadership program. And it was awesome.
I’ve been incredibly blessed in my short career to have been surrounded by awesome bosses, friends and mentors. However, around a year ago, I started noticing a gap. I needed, for lack of a better description, girl talk. Because let’s be honest, as much as I’d love to tell you that all is equal between boys and girls, it’s not. We are different creatures and to no surprise, sometimes we just need someone to share that with.
Enter Pathbuilders. I’ll save my elevator pitch on the program itself for another post, but after one such conversation on life and careers with a leader in my life and my need for something different, he asked me to check it out. After ten minutes on the phone, I was sold.
Six months and many, many mentor conversations later, here I am. So what did I learn? A lot.
My top 10 biggest takeaways:
- Bosses aren’t mind readers. If you want something, you have to ask for it. Be vocal and make your feelings and desires known.
- No one is more invested in your career than you. Invest in it now. Spend time making Rory Gilmore style pro-cons lists. Figure out what you want to accomplish tomorrow, next year and in 10 years from now. It doesn’t have to be right, but start thinking about it.
- Leaders aren’t made by being the loudest one in the room, leadership starts with listening.
- Be. Confident. Be confident in who you are, how you speak and how you present yourself. Only you own you. As Tim Gunn would say, make it work.
- Money matters, job descriptions matter, clients matter, but culture trumps them all. At the end of the day, you want to love who you work with and where you spend your time. Money ain’t gonna buy you happiness after a 50+ hour work week.
- But…do know your worth. Network, get to know others in your field, learn your strengths and where you can improve. I love my job, but that does not mean I should ever stop keeping an eye out for what everyone around me is doing. It’s not only good for my position, but strengthens my value to my employer as well.
- Take your emotion out of the meeting. This is a tough one for me. I’m a pretty passionate person, and I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t cried at work before. However, this piece of advice is one I have certainly put into action. Make decisions and conversations around facts first, feelings second. Anyone can rebuttal the “I think” moment, they cannot do the same when you share results.
- No results + excuses = no results. Manage others’ expectations and then exceed them. Spend your time finding solutions, not telling everyone the problem.
- Give and ask for feedback, and do it often. We can’t expect to improve without open, honest dialogue. You should never wait until an annual review to find out if you are succeeding.
- Enjoy the ride. No one has it all figured out. We are all human. It’s OK to not know where you want to be in 10 years from now. The important part is actively working towards it.
I honestly wish every single women starting her career had the opportunity to experience such a program, but just like those post-college graduation realizations, the experiences count beyond the classroom. Go out there and do something about it.
As 2011 draws to a close, I’m finding my calendar filled with meetings on wrapping up and wish lists…but they don’t involve Santa. 2012 planning is in full swing.
Putting a year on paper is a daunting task for any marketer, especially so in the digital space, where the landscape can change over night. So how do you ensure a plan that not only makes sense in plain English, but also sets clients up for success in the space for an eternity of 365 days?
Hint: head back to the basics. Below are the three “must haves” on my digital planning wish list for 2012.
Vow to not work in silos
With more companies moving away from the idea of one single AOR to multiple players in their business depending on area of expertise, working across agencies is more important than ever. Gone are the days of “we own this.” Your consumer could care less who runs the company Facebook page vs. their TV commercials. We must learn to better communicate and see the experience through the eyes of a consumer.
Back away from digital
Take a step away from the channels you own and go back to square one. Remember that brand research deck you were passed along when you first won the business? Dig it back up. Consumers are no longer on-line and off-line, only the devices and mediums of consumption change.
Take the time to learn who your target consumer really is. What are the interested in? What content outside of your brand’s do they choose to consume? Where are they using their devices? The answers to these questions and so many more will ultimately drive your plans back on-line with insight rather than the sparkly allure.
Think outside the box
The world of “we have to be in social because everyone else is already there” is changing. Companies know having a digital presence isn’t enough – it’s having the right presences and the right experiences across all of your channels. Consider setting aside time to test and learn in 2012. Talk to start-ups or do a pilot program with a less mainstream community; find the passionate people who can help to push your client’s brand forward.
Planning a year in advance is never easy, in fact, we find ways to dread it or present to sparkly object syndrome. Get out of your comfort zone, try something new and you’ll find the year falls into place.
I have a love for QR codes, if you have ever read my previous posts, that much is clear. But like any great love story, it has to have meaning, a reason behind the glitz and glamour. QR codes are a great way to bridge the gap that still exists between our physical worlds and the technology that we carry around in our pockets that can bring it to life. QR codes take the flashy, in little barcode and suddenly give it meaning when scanned and revealing value to a user’s digital life. However, scanning a QR code that doesn’t have meaning, that adds no value or that delivers a clunky experience is more than an individual disappointment, but one that can halt a first time users exploration of a great use of technology.
I recently scanned a code in a grocery store hoping to learn more about an interesting blue flower, an experience I was hoping would add value, education and a potential purchase. However, I was directed to a full website where reading the material in-store was less than ideal. Clearly the code was used as glitz and glamour over purpose. When planning to direct any type of new technology to consumers, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- What am I asking my end user to do? And what am I providing them in return? If it’s to give information, should this be in the form of a video? Or perhaps a quick way to scroll through facts?
- Where will the action take place? Do you expect users to take a code home or to influence purchase decision? These two answers as vastly different and should define the experience you deliver. For example, if in-store, why not deliver an exclusive offer or compelling fact, recipe or information that may dictate a purchase decision.
- How do you plan on tracking these actions? Be sure to choose a platform that will allow you to track every action. Where have people scanned? What time of day did the action take place? Was this as you had expected? These insights can help you to uncover deep information about your target consumer and will help you to analyze where to send consumers next.
Technology should be simple and it should offer users value in their lives. Take purpose into account when planning and these actions will provide your brand value in return.