I’m a project manager, so I like to plan. Before you think “no shit, Sherlock” and click away from this post, I need you to truly understand the how deeply good (or bad) planning affects my core being.
If I go to bed with more than 3-4 unfinished tasks on my to do list, I fall into an existential crisis. When I’m stressed, I cope by organizing and reorganizing my Wunderlist until I feel better. I know peoples’ meeting calendars at Emplify better than they do. And I mean this with all the love in the world, but I’m pretty sure my husband would look like Weird Al Yankovic if I didn’t set reminders to give him haircuts.
Digressions aside, when our new VP of Marketing came to me with some pretty revolutionary, but also very intimidating, visions for our marketing strategy, all I wanted to do was lock myself in an office and compulsively move Trello cards until all the scary feelings went away. However, when you are at a crossroads with a team that warrants a greater discussion around marketing vision (and how you’re going to actually achieve said vision), ignoring those scary feelings will only result in spinning wheels on projects and team members who aren’t invested in their work.
Being the process-oriented monster that I am, I suggested tackling these big strategic concepts during a day-long planning offsite. I know team offsites can often warrant an audible groan from those who have endured horrendous training sessions or “team building activities,” but our recent offsite literally set our goals in motion for an entire quarter. We’re currently planning our team’s objectives for Q3, and we didn’t even need to meet about them, because we planned out the majority of our objectives during our offsite. How would you like to plan out an entire quarter’s worth of goals by just collaborating on a Google Doc?
It’s possible, but it takes some intentional focus on how to make your vision a tangible reality. Here are some takeaways from our recent offsite that you can apply to your quarterly planning:
What tactics have you used to set actionable goals for your marketing team? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments, and good luck with your Q3 planning!
So, it’s been a minute since my last blog post.
Actually, it’s been more than 313,000 minutes since my last blog post. A few reasons behind that include:
Needless to say, things have been a bit insane.
When I started this blog, I promised myself I’d write about my professional passions. And something I’m REALLY passionate about is getting shit done. Seriously, if I could just write “good at getting shit done” on a blank piece of paper and call it my resume, I would.
But for a few months at Emplify, the marketing team wasn’t getting shit done. We were doing a lot of great things: working on the new book, going to great events, helping build new brand messaging. But, we were struggling with the paradox of choice - when everything is important and a priority, nothing is. On top of that, we didn’t have clear stakeholders for the projects that did make it to the top of the list. We were overwhelmed by work, frustrated when multiple stakeholders weighed in on project quality, and not getting anything out the door because of last minute edits and fixes. We weren’t meeting OKRs and were constantly confused about who was responsible for missing them.
Personally, I was a mess. I’d stay up all night worrying about problems that weren’t mine to solve and spend the day feeling defeated by my mountainous to-do list, constantly taking on tasks that didn’t have a clear owner. I’ve been really lucky to have bosses that let me be vulnerable, so I booked a 90-minute meeting with our company’s fearless leader and told him something had to change.
Since then, we’ve made a lot of changes, and the marketing team at large is so much more engaged. There are many reasons for that, but one clear reason is due to one (harder than you would think) question that we sat down and asked ourselves:
“Who owns what?”
If your marketing team is anything like ours, you struggle to know who the ultimate owner of a project is. Who is the person that is directly responsible for the success of a deliverable? Who sets measurable outcomes for a task that the team can align with? Who needs this project to be successful so they can ultimately be successful too?
What Ownership Means to Our Team
At Emplify, a lot of our ownership revolves around our demand generation channels. Every quarter, we set an SQL (sales qualified lead) goal for each of our main marketing channels, such as advertising, paid search, events, webinars, organic website leads, and so on. Then, each one of those channels is assigned an inherent owner on our team. That owner is responsible for surfacing problems around that particular channel, such as being behind pace for an SQL goal or needing to update a piece of collateral so it aligns with our product messaging. Those problems are then brainstormed/solutioned, and that owner becomes the stakeholder for the ultimate deliverable.
This method of project ownership has been particularly successful for our team because:
Since then, we’ve been able to ship work more quickly because we rely on the feedback of 1-2 defined stakeholders to refine a project, rather than 3-5 because no one knew who gave the final say. Being able to ship faster results in seeing wins faster, which in turn boosts engagement because we can more frequently celebrate our collaborative successes.
If you’re struggling with similar issues on your marketing team, I’d encourage you to take a step back and truly define channel stakeholders and their associated KPIs to help make project prioritization and implementation a bit easier. This conversation on our team took three hours on a Friday afternoon, included beer, and resulted in significant boosts to our project confidence, ownership and quality.
Have you experiences similar issues with your team? How did you address it? Would love to chat more in the comments below!
How in the world has it been FIVE months since I last blogged? I mean I know why, but still.
Since my last blog post went live, I've done the following: switched to a new job, got married, went an on amazing honeymoon with my forever boo/new husband, moved to Broad Ripple, launched a new brand at said new job (more on that later), house sat a dog for five minutes, and a million other small accomplishments.
But let's talk about the wedding for a second. It was amazing. I am so lucky to have amazing friends and a great life partner. The day basically consisted of my bridesmaids and I eating hotel continental breakfast while other (fantastic) people set up the venue, putting a dress and makeup on, and showing up to get married, drink beer, and eat Yats. What on God's great Earth is better than that?
I'm working on a job-related blog post right now, but in the meantime, how about some wedding day pics?
XOXO - Eva Christine
Any comments on the post will be shared with Charlie, and feel free to reach out to him personally on Twitter with thoughts as well. If you're ever interested in sharing your own personal thoughts on prayer with my blog audience, please let me know. Lunch/brunch conversations are always welcome too.
The River Has Moved.
I don’t pray anymore. At least not how I used to.
A year ago, I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. Up until that point, I prayed aloud, and often. I spoke prayers of gratitude and thankfulness. I prayed for safe travels and good fortune for others. I thought myself to be spiritually enlightened and safe.
I had lost others before: grandparents, an uncle, but losing my father when he was 55, myself 25, I ran out of words to pray. I recall others praying with us. Aiding us along with words of comfort and affirmation in our time of grief. A few weeks would pass before I began to feel the power of these voices grow quiet.
I’ve always been drawn to the science of prayer. Studies have been performed on the topic of neurotheology and the effects to the body and brain therein. The controversial author Dan Brown even covered some of these topics in his 2009 novel, The Lost Symbol. Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe.
Yet in the weeks after my father’s passing, I grew tired and weary and angry at the silence. “It might be an empty house,” C.S. Lewis wrote. “Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once.”
My prayers, once words, became like the silence I waited in, expecting a response. Shortly thereafter, my prayers became resentful, until my prayers became a single-middle finger extended upward.
What did I have to be thankful for? I had observed a benevolent God briefly draw a spiritually anemic man back into his arms, torture him with disease and take him from the loved-ones that needed him most.
Months later, I sat with a spiritual mentor who shared his own experience of losing his mother just a year prior. After losing his father at a young age, his mother raised him up through his teens and into adulthood.
He described his loss as time spent on a familiar river. All his time there allowed him know, intimately the trees, the rocks, the coolness of the water, before a flood came through and destroyed the serenity.
Once the torrent had passed, the once-familiar bank had changed. The river had moved. It’s flowing in a different path now. Some of the trees and rocks are still there, but not unchanged.
I, too, recognize some of the rocks at my own stream. They are smoother now, softer. Yet there are new rocks as well. Sharper rocks, that cut and hurt and cause me to whimper and groan.
Nine-months later, when the holiday season came, I found myself again in solitude one evening. The celebration of the advent stirred in me memories of child-like wonder at the man my father was.
I prayed that night, but the old formula had given way to something else.
A few syllables were all I could really muster, but I felt a peace about them.
“When I lay these questions before God I get no answer,” C.S. Lewis later wrote. “But a rather special sort of ‘No Answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child: you don’t understand.’”
My questions still linger, and my pain, though duller-now, still remains. I will continue to ask my questions; however, knowing that it may never fully be my place to know. This omnipotent being I believe in owes me nothing, yet I know He listens when I do.
I pray again now. At least not how I used to.