So, we have a pretty chill office, not that everyone isn’t working their cute booties off (because they are) but we like to keep things real. So, there used to be a time, not so long ago when I would call it a day and purchase a few bottles of wine and we would all have an “end of day” drink. Well, that seemed like a good idea until I realized everyday seemed like it needed to end in that yummy glass of wine. Now, this was not my colleague’s issue it was mine because I LOVE WINE. And, given ANY excuse I’m going to have a glass. But, I realized that all was not well with this strategy and decided to personally make a change. So, I’m about to complete a 3 month fast, with only 2-3 little hiccups and I feel great. But it’s funny. The girls do ask when I’m going to be done. When there’s a birthday and we break out the champagne, there’s the quiet little, maybe even hopeful questions “so are you drinking again?” This makes me sound a bit like a lush, eh? Ladies, ladies, yes it’s almost over, but here are 2 VERY good reasons to stay on the wagon. NUMBER 1: excellent for the figure! NUMBER 2: excellent for the brain cells. Need I say more? I think we won’t see a Mad Men “martinis for lunch” revival at Brand Building, after all. Sorry ladies, there is always the Soho House roof. Lol.
I know a few pr agencies where the office is like a sorority. And that’s just fine if you’re into the girly thing. I’m not so much. Though our office is mostly women, this is a fun but generally serious bunch. When the office operates like a sorority things can get a little silly. Our industry can tend toward the dramatic, so why add to it? But when summer rolls around and I’m not headed to Shelter Island for a little rest and relaxation I do work on my tan at Soho House. They have a pool on the roof and it has an old home feel for me. Having spent most of my formative years in Miami there is definitely a kinship between that roof and that town. And this is where the sorority part comes in....on one of those Fridays I may ask someone from the office if they want to come to the pool to work. They have wireless after all, and even though I’M not drinking, there is an excellent menu and lots of fun drinks — for them. So sometimes I think it is ok to bring the sorority into play. I just have to invite everyone, one person at a time...
- Your brain (if you were out late the night before, maybe drinking, this is not your A-Game)
- 3 case studies in your back pocket to pull out in need (they should be relevant for your prospective client's needs)
- Homework -- with Google there is zero excuse for not learning all you can about your new client
- A capabilities deck with good examples of your work, not just jargon
- MOST IMPORTANT -- a good ear, because your clients (your new ones) want to make sure you HEAR them...
That's the list, super simple. Works every time!
So, I'm 47 years old and have never had any children. I have lots of kids in my life, and I'm good with them. It's not as if I'm some Auntie Mame that never really wanted to deal with the little creatures. Details of my life conspired against me in this arena, but it's all ok. I like and respect the little friends and they seem to feel the same way about me.
But no kids brings up something in an office where I'm old enough to be just about everyone's mother. What is that something? It's that over arching feeling that you ARE their mother. Motherhood may not be your destiny but it will find you, in some form or fashion.
Look, the amazing people that work for and with me do not need or want a mother. It's just the weird and inevitable phenomena that accompanies someone that has, by and large, a nurturing spirit. So, on a daily basis I try to balance the "I'm older than you and know best and want to protect you from the pitfalls of life" (lol) with sound management.
How do I do that?
1) Remember what it was like when I had to answer to someone who always felt like they knew more than I did (boring and deflating)
2) Remember, sadly, that they are LIGHT YEARS more mature than I was when I was their age
3) Remember that boundaries are CRITICAL for good management no matter how "creative" the environment
4) Remember that after all, what they really want is a fair boss and a raise
Working on the raise. Lol!
Ok, that's a silly question, isn't it? Meetings. What are they good for? Well, for meeting. Together. Finding consensus, making a plan. Nice idea. If only it worked better.
I was first exposed to the culture of "meeting" early in my career, but it reached a shocking crescendo when I was working for one of the world's largest beauty brands. I felt SO sorry for their employees. It was one meeting after another, after another, and so on. Question: when was any actual work getting done? All head and no body makes for an extremely lopsided configuration.
I vowed that I would not create the culture of "meeting" in my own business. It didn't start out that way. Back when I was a division of a larger company our "staff" meetings could last all day. Brutal, and quite frankly stupid. Today, they are generally quick and to the point - as long as I'm not leading them (not really true, but mostly).
Truth is I like a good meeting. It's super important for providing vision and creating direction. But one meeting after another doesn't really get you anywhere.
My staff is not the biggest proponent of the meeting and I've learned to flow with this. We do quickies on the go and bigger ones once in a while and voila! It all happens.
So, meetings. Obviously, they're necessary. My suggestion: keep them organized by knowing what you want them to accomplish before you show up. And make sure there is a nice list of next steps with clear deadlines by the end. Then a meeting has a purpose. And that's the purpose of a meeting, after all. Lol.
Ok, if you want to scale your business you really don’t want your employees to need you that much. Bottom line, if they need you, aka, can’t make a move without you, you’re in deep pooh. Look around, survey the landscape, this it is, this little slice of business heaven. You will never grow, expand, move onward and upward. BUT that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt a little, especially if you’ve been part of the training process. Everyone wants to be needed, at least most people. I always thought I did until the needing got a bit much. That, however, is usually just growing pains. Every major shift requires a tug, then you break free, people fly and you do too, onto the next challenge. It’s part of the game. If you don’t have the stomach for the rollercoaster you may as well not ever get into this thing called business.
I had two of my top people jump ship last winter for greener pastures. Hey, it happens. No hard feelings, I have a tremendous amount of respect for them both. But, of course, this meant my job just got a bit harder, because instead of hiring above my AE level gals we decided to promote from within. One of the VPs who left was an EXCELLENT manager (I get teary-eyed just thinking about her skill, she’s going to be a great mother one of these days). Now, I had to get in and fill her shoes AND run my business and boy that wasn’t fun. But good news, the ladies were up for the challenge, the heavy training is over and they don’t need me nearly as much anymore. Yes, it makes me sad, but glad too. And they are doing amazing things! Hey, in the end, it’s better to have someone want you than need you anyway. Lol.
Well, it’s not entirely true that I don’t know how to manage my time. I do get things done. I do know how to get other people to get things done. But no matter how much gets done I’m not convinced it is A) Done the best possible way B) Enough – enough things done, that is...
The deal is, time is a finite asset. It sure will be cool when we can bend time, and that day is surely coming. It’s called the end of time when time doesn’t matter anymore. I’m actually looking forward to that day. I’ll be dead by the time that happens, but I’m hoping to make a comeback...Ok, where are all these existential musings going? Who knows, who has the time to tell.
So, in our business time isn’t just an asset, it’s a commodity. And I can assure you there is NEVER enough of it. My new concept around time management is “if you can’t get it done, you can’t get it done.” When you’re doing specific things for clients “I didn’t have time for that” will never work very well. So, the best solution we’ve come up with in our agency (and I borrowed this from a past client) Fewer, Bigger, Better. This helps as a filter. If the client wants More, More and More they had better be ready to pay for it.
So, time management. Honestly, if someone has a great solution please share because I’m not convinced anyone knows what they’re doing in this arena. It’s a slippery beast, time is. Just when you think you have enough of it, it slips away. Here’s what I think, do the best you can to enjoy the time you have while you have it. And make sure you appreciate those around you while you’re at it BECAUSE based on the way things go you don’t know how much time you’ll have with them — and your people are MUCH more important than time.
Our agency often leverages Hollywood on behalf of our clients. Diamonds and gowns on the red carpet plus great press coverage can go a long way toward putting a brand on the map and keeping them there. Of course, to use this platform you have to work the "system" and let me tell you that can be no fun. In fact, on most days it can be the opposite of fun—what's that word? Work.
Hollywood is fickle, capricious and a downright moody lady. One day she loves you, the next she's totally forgotten your name. Just when you think you're in, you're out. A yes is most often a no, but you won't know that until it's too late.
Here are a few simple rules we've found helpful when navigating Hollywood's turbulent waters:
1) Never push, you look desperate. It's better to let something go than ruin your fragile reputation.
2) If it seems too good to be true it most certainly is, no exceptions...
3) Keep those relationships alive—graft works!
4) If they want what you have you'll know it because (drum roll) they want it! You'll see the difference when you're trying to pawn off something they don't want...
5) Everything takes a LOT longer than you think it will, so buckle up it's going to be long, bumpy ride...
Ok, just some thoughts, use them wisely!