I’m not really sure many people in my life know what I do. And to be fair, the problem certainly isn’t unique to me. I remember being a kid having no idea what my mom or dad did for a living other than take care of me! I think we somewhat reserve that mentality as we get older, and one thing that never ceases to surprise me is how little we actually know the people that are closest to us. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again, the first time this idea really struck me to my core was 8 or 9 years ago when my sister was lying in a coma with the very real possibility of never returning to us. She is a teacher and I remember students pouring their hearts out with concern that was much appreciated by the family and I think, somewhere deep down, known and felt by my sister. But, I grew jealous and almost hateful (can we say grieving stages much?) of their concern because it was so much more particular than my overwhelming concern for her. I realized she spent 12 or more hours every week with each of her students and when did I ever see her? When did I have those classroom discussion with her where you really dig down and get to know how a person thinks and dreams? Never. Part of me felt like I needed to write an assignment or turn in a paper to somehow plead with her to know me and how much I wanted to know her, but no matter how I tried over the years I kept coming right back too strange failure in family. Family simply assumes we know what the other person is doing or how they act or react. We take those few years we spend together as small children and solidify it into that old, untrue mantra of “people never change.” In fact, I think family constantly treating each other like childhood forms of themselves is exactly what builds these roles and psychological truths of oldest child versus youngest child, for example. And these truths resonate through our desires to truly know or get to know anyone else we befriend in life.
I am guilty of the same thing. I have a small circle of friends that have been “my boys” since what seemed like the dawn of time. We’ve all been friends, been enemies, been in love with each other, stopped talking to each other, yet always been there for each other since I was introduced to their already long time group of friends. That was back in 2001 and we remain friends still.
My first friend in the group remains my best friend in the group, despite all we have been through together. Still, we met as teenagers and have spent the majority of our friendship in a perpetual long distance friendship with very few cross overs during my returns back to Texas, where our friendships all started. Now, when I see him, I instantly want to go back in time and pop in the same crappy pop punk mix tapes and cruise Cooper Street in tricked or cars, hit up opening night of every major nerd movie, and order classic chicken fingers at Bennigan’s. It shocks me to learn new things about him – like his love for tea, his conversion to hip hop, and his relationship with his family. This is a friend I’ve known for over half my life and it took me years to find out he was dating someone and had been dating that same person through many key phases of our friendship. Only in hindsight could input together every mention of a girl over the years and realize they were all the same person. This isn’t because I’m a terrible friend as much as it is just how guys and girls keep in touch. Guys don’t exactly call me jumping up and down over having met a pretty girl, and likewise, I can’t remember ever telling them who I was going after even in high school. In fact, it came as a far too late notice back in the day when I actually opted to date one of them from the group. To save us all from that story, let’s just say that everyone was pretty mad about it and the relationship ended instantaneously. I was and shall remain just another one of the guys and that’s how I like it. That’s why I had the honor of being “best man” to my best friends wedding and I didn’t even go all Julia Roberts about it because I knew his dedication. I just knew. Yet it’s in those moments when we think we “just know” that we sometimes fail to listen.
So to my family, who barely knows me and to friends I hardly know: I currently live in Sydney, Australia where I am the Director of Marketing Communications for an international company. Our primary business is white label marketing services for large partners, resellers, and affiliate relationships. I currently manage a team of 4 housed in our main Utah office, a team in Mumbai, and several other hot desk teammates from Canada, US, Brazil, Spain, The Netherlands, Philippines, and here in Australia. I am in charge of making sure every aspect of internal communications, branding, partner messaging, and lead generation flow from start to finish without anything ever being missed. This is incredibly difficult with a worldwide team and even more difficult that our full time team members are forced to wear so many hats. To put it simply, like many companies, we have growing pains and Marketing is the turnstile of growth. We get squashed. We are in charge of making sure sales grows as well as making sure we get more applications in to HR, and with each click up the charts for number of sales prospects and amount of employees, our team doesn’t grow until we push over major milestones. Currently, we need to push over 500 full time employees and bring in another ten thousand high quality leads each month, all on the shoulders of a core team of 2 managers and 4 marketing specialists. Once that’s done, we get another full time person and another goal where we get squeezed in he process. That’s just how it goes and unfortunately very typical of most marketing teams, I think.
At some point, everything just works and the business creates more business with no more push or pull requires. Those are the large companies that go public or are on the brink of going public. Those companies get a marketing team that aligns more with internal communication than lead generation. And their lives appear easy breezy compared to mid level companies curving over back breaking milestones. And right now, my back currently holds the weight of worldwide team management, partner messaging, branding, and international growth all alongside our marketing automation strategy and the full weight of the sales strategy. Ya, that’s not typical. It’s just something I’m so undeniably good at that there’s no sense in continuing to hire and wait for someone else to get it all.
I tend to take as much squeeze on myself as possible because everything falls apart when my team members have too many completely different projects they are in charge of. And I very much look forward to the next tick up the charts.
These last two weeks, we grew our team members by two which any manager knows and understands that at first, new members being a LOT of new work to their desk simply because of training. For the next 1-3 months I’ll be trying to train two people to better manage aspects that have either been overlooked or skirted over as another project on my plate. I look forward to their involvement, but at the same time, it doesn’t make much of a difference on what’s on my plate. Essentially all we did was turn two previous contracted team members into in house members. So the work is being done and still requires management. Me? I’m still trying to figure out how to do it all while bracing myself for inevitable moments where last minute projects and emergencies hit my desk without the ability to overlook everything else I do on a day to day basis. If you’ve ever wondered what the Director in your life does, this is their life.
My dad was a Director of Operations my entire life. And I am the first to become a Director in his footsteps. Even I remember as a child, sitting opposite of him at his desk where I would crunch pretend numbers and pretend I knew how to run AutoCAD for manufacturing design. But my perspective of what he did was simply that he was on the phone ALL the time and he was stressed almost always and he had to sign A LOT of stuff. That’s all true. I certainly do all of those things, but I had no idea the kind of weight and importance a man in his position had. And unlike me, in his last job before retirement, he managed 15+ other managers (I manage 4) who all, in turn, managed over 300 people across 3 shifts of the day running 7 days a week.
Thankfully I think I was born into tenacity and organizational skills. I could talk an Eskimo into buying ice, but I am no salesman. I’m a manager. That’s why I do what I do.
My background is pretty much all music. I’ve been a writer for a number of publications. I’ve been a PR manager for venues. I’ve run my own venue. I’ve been a tour manager. And I spent five years on Sony’s Alternative Marketing team where I managed both Utah and Texas regions. But one thing that isn’t on my resume mostly because I’m not proud and it was merely means to an end to help pay for college, is that I spent five years as a college enrollment advisor and financial aid advisor for my college. I had no idea the mind of impact that experience would have on my life.
As a counselor, my job was to approach sales as an educator in more of a guidance role. I used your typical CRM system where leads came in hot or were marked cold. I had to log every call and every email. I had to change statuses. Today, I’ve based my entire experience as a glorified sales person on how I’ve rolled out our new SalesForce organization.
To put in more immediate terms as to what it’s like to be a Director of an International team — today I am running a shift from 6:30am to 3am. And no, I did not typo that.
In fact, it’s taken me all day during various walks, jogs, and brief breaks to get this written out. So it’s already 9pm here with just 3 hours to go to finish everything I need to do before people wake up and it’s back to meeting after meeting after meeting.
Tonight I have meetings about a website integration, rolling out phase 2 while simultaneously lighting a major fire under some new team members butts to fix and test literally 100+ things before I finish my next set of meetings and/or finally get to bed. After my website roll out and next steps strategy meeting, I have a meeting with sales to ensure that the half a dozen or more APEX rule integrations I’ve been working on with my SalesForce team have all fired and run as expected. This meeting is simply to be there when all of the sales team gets started on new leads for the day and I get to take a fire hose to any concerns while listing out anything that will in fact need fixing. This meeting is more for me. If I don’t have this meeting, then I usually wake up and a complete panic because I have a dozen messages, missed calls, emails, and pings freaking out over something I messed up only to find out hours later (when I’ve already spent so much time trying to figure out what on earth everyone is talking about) that all of it was a false alarm and false accusation. In fact, I am proud to say that for every time this has happened (more than I want to admit), there’s actually never been a case in which something I did was at fault to how the sales team functions. Still, I want to be sure of it and I want to go to bed without one eye open and my phone on my chest, worried that I’ll be needed sometime throughout the night. Let’s face the facts here, middle of the night emergencies would be number one of my list of disabilities when it comes to a job because I literally cannot do middle of the night surprises. I’m a narcoleptic business woman. If you do wake me through my many layers of sleep tonics, I will be less than happy, barely functional, and likely pausing between arguments to puke up every last remain of stomach acid ever in existence. You DON’T want to mess with my sleep.
That’s just one more thing though isn’t it? I don’t think even my very best friends know I have narcolepsy and if they do, I am not sure it’s something that has required any understanding of anyone less close to me than my Stark. It’s one of those situations that just wildly breeds assumptions in people. It took me 9 years just to mutter its existence publicly for the first time. But that’s another story for another time. As I have work to get back to.
What about you? What do you do? What are you anything but known for?