The First Headline About Festive Fleet

When deciding to leave a then-11-person organization for a Fortune 50 Company, I was most excited to see what an organization of that caliber could accomplish. What impact they could have on the communities they’re in.

I’ve been lucky to dive into that first hand, in my first quarter with Comcast, by being the Twin Cities Region lead for Festive Fleet. While I’m a woman of words, I’d rather show you just what Festive Fleet is:

Festive Fleet has given me the opportunity to empower a team of technicians and support staff to embrace the impact they’re capable of. We leverage the relationships they are building in homes every day, and asked them to nominate deserving customers for a special gift.

These are customers who are financially struggling, suffering from a loss in the family, encountering a difficult time, creating a pleasant experience for technicians in their home, or unfortunately having an unpleasant experience with Comcast.

Customers aren’t asking for these gifts, or reaching out to us with these stories. These stories are discovered by the Technician’s time in the home, and their ability to be there as a person, for a person, rather than completing a job for a customer and leaving.

I could talk for hours about the stories I read while choosing the 35 customers from the Twin Cities area to receive gifts. 

The only issue is, no one knows we do this.

While I was interviewing for Comcast, I didn’t think of Festive Fleet. I thought of many of the headlines that are probably racing through your mind now.

I decided to set up Google Alerts for Comcast so I could learn the company, but also keep tabs on the outside impression. I still read it everyday; it’s not always the most uplifting email, especially recently.

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But when I was about a week into my new role at Comcast, it was a different headline that made me pause. One from the Region VP down the hall, who I now often talk to while making coffee.

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Also new to his role in the Twin Cities Region, I was excited to see we were the first to admit where we have gone wrong, and also the first to bet on this team.

I have no desire to have my point of view outweigh these other headlines, rather I hope to capture the side of Comcast that no one hears about- the family that always puts the customer first.

Like peeling layers of an onion, I keep discovering new programs available to employees and customers, and new coworkers to connect with.

I was inspired by Internet Essentials, which offers low-cost Internet service, discounted computer equipment, and free digital literacy training to families with children in the National School Lunch Program. This was then expanded to eligible seniors and community college students in limited markets.

It’s solutions like these that motivate me to find creative solutions, because this fast-paced industry doesn’t allow time to say the words, “This is the way it’s always been done.”

Still, Comcast isn’t perfect. It’s a work in progress, an organization embracing new practices and priorities, and ensuring that cascades down to every single individual. And outside of an 11-person organization, there will be customer experiences and decisions that are out of my control. That’s difficult for a scrappy mind to accept.

So instead of being on the sidelines, I’ve used my scrappiness to make the Twin Cities Region close-knit and I’ve seen how this 159,000 person organization can still build partnerships across departments and regions. I’ve learned from collaborative leaders who are focused on a bigger picture that’s rooted in customer experience.

I’ve shared my experiences with others, and no longer hesitate when saying, “I’m a Marketing Specialist at Comcast” as I did my first week. Whatever reaction that brings, it’s just another opportunity to share why I am so proud to say #IAmComcast.  

 

 

Scrappy Sings a New Tune

“Scrappy is being the first Marketing role in an organization, at your first job: I am the Marketing Coordinator at Work Effects, a business consulting company located in Downtown Minneapolis. I am focused on public relations, creating marketing materials, and running our website. Trial and error is basically built into my job description, and that’s what I love about it.” This was the first bullet point of my About page. Until about 5 minutes ago.

In August, I moved into my new condo, started a new job, and changed my entire teaching schedule. I had a really good answer when people asked, “So, whats new?”

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My new favorite view of Minneapolis

 

When life is moving so fast, the hardest thing to do can be slowing down. Let alone slow down long enough to write, and that’s why we’re all here for a 3 month delayed update. Luckily, I did take many conscious moments to process this transition, and stay present as I watched all that was familiar be put into a jar and given a good shake.

With this shake up came the release of some pieces of my identity, as I tried on a new look for size. Deleting the paragraph above made me pause. Removing myself from the Work Effects website- a site I had designed, wrote, and maintained- made me pause. Pressing send on my first mortgage payment made me pause.

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And I’m so glad it did.

When I redesigned my blog to be S is for Scrappy, it was inspired by a thought to reclaim my confidence in myself at my making-it-up-as-I-go-along job. Scrappy is not having all the answers but charging ahead anyway, it’s playing 6 different roles within one day, it’s about making confidence contagious.

Just over 90 days ago, I left my 11-person company for the very similar Fortune 50 Comcast NBCUniversal and gained 159,000 coworkers.

Those 90 days have been pretty scrappy. I didn’t question whether to take part in the labor day potluck/cooking competition, and promoted my Panzanella salad to anyone who would listen, including the VP of Sales and Marketing.

The appetizer gold trophy went to “the newest Comcaster,” and will forever stand out in my mind as a moment where I remember thinking, I feel at home.

Scrappy is being brought in on the tail-end of a project, but leading set design and answering probably too many questions with “trust me, I can see it in my head.”

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The set of our live broadcast for the finale of a Talladega Nights themed sales incentive

Scrappy is adopting a mantra of “what if we made it fun?” the first time in a corporate setting. Good news- that mindset is contagious, and effective.

Recently, I’ve been in a few conversations of friends who feel stuck in their jobs, and it’s made my recognize how truly significant this journey has been. I could have never guessed that my path had this in store. I would have never imagined I was exactly where I needed to be; gaining the experience I’d be able to speak to during a phone interview with a recruiter in Denver. That something about my scrappy mix of specialities would be the perfect fit for a thriving sales and marketing team at Comcast’s Twin Cities Region office.

You are exactly where you need to be. Something I don’t get to speak to as often is how the Om tattoo on my back captures that sentiment. “Om” has three syllables, and it represents the three stages of any experience, situation, and life- beginning, middle, and end.34550

When you are in the middle of anything- good or bad- it’s difficult to picture that ceasing to exist. This is why the bad times in our life stick out so distinctly, the seconds crawl by with no end in sight. But everything is temporary.

As I enjoy beginning this new stage, I must recognize that it will shift, grow, and change. Rather than half-heartedly enjoying this moment with the caveat of “but nothing stays perfect,” I am diving in with a present mind and full heart to allow this stage to be as glorious as it wants to be. So that the joy, beauty, and discoveries of this stage do not go unrecognized. So that I pause.

This seemingly ordinary weekend was filled with all of my favorite things- yoga, time outside with Maya and Brandon, teaching, hosting friends and family, Alpha Gam- and it made me realize how extraordinary this life I created is. 

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How Did They Do That?

IMG_4986Always in amazement of Minneapolis Mad Women events, I’m not surprised I’m still sharing, connecting, and gaining inspiration from the March #HowDidTheyDoThat? session. Six women and one redefining-the-term-power-couple made up the panel that shared their journeys of how they got to where they are today.

Journey doesn’t mean read me your resume, for these speakers, it meant sharing stories of vulnerability, doubt, missteps, and embracing risk.

I could go on forever about the details of each stories (ask my friends, I have) but what sticks with me two weeks later is rather than checking all the boxes and moving through the motions, trust your instincts to follow your own path. Here’s a highlight of how they did it:

  • Kalei Grines, Business Engagement for Target Style, shared that she began her career hiding that she was a single mom, and later having her daughter think of the office as a second home. Once her daughter’s 10th birthday rolled around, Kalei realized she had crossed off all the goals and positions she wanted, but didn’t see her own work in who her independent, extroverted and gifted daughter had become. If something feels like it’s missing from your work/life balance, it probably is. Redefine success to include the life you want to live.
  • Jeremy and Krista Carroll, founders of Latitude, were inspired after spending time in Haiti to leave jobs they weren’t connected to and start their own business dedicated to elevating lives in third-world countries. For this leap to be possible, they asked themselves, “What’s the worst case scenario?” After confirming moving their family into Krista’s parent’s basement was indeed an option, the plan seemed less crazy. Krista credits Latitude’s success to purpose driving talent.
  • Pamela Brown, Brand Licensing & Partnership Management at General Mills, wrote a hilarious letter to her 22 year-old self that prepared her to reframe her career experiences that were to come. She called these “gifts wrapped in shitty ugly paper,” such as receiving a bad boss, terrible pay, no work/life balance; all of which helped her know what to look for in her next role. These shitty, ugly, gifts prepared her not to compromise on what mattered to her most.

After the eight panelists shared their stories, someone asked what their two non-negotiables are in a job. After brainstorming on the way home, and for the last two weeks, I’ve decided my non-negotiables are creative outlets and work/life balance

  • While I currently create content, webinars, graphics, white papers, that is not the only way creativity must show up for me. It’s thinking creatively as well— finding a new solution, trying things that haven’t been done— that make me feel like my whole self is coming to work.
  • Work/life balance isn’t actually a matter of balance. An amazing mentor once told
    me, “If something is in balance, it’s not moving.” So for me, it’s having an employer that allows for flexibility and life outside of work, and for me to be an employee that doesn’t make them regret that. I’m a better employee when I have IMG_4539time for early morning yoga, and evening hours spent away from screens.

I’m lucky that my first role and organization offer these two non-negotiables. At #HowDidTheyDoIt? I realized how many different paths and experiences people come from. We are all too unique to march to the beat of someone else’s drum, or cling to a set in stone five year plan.

For me, remembering that is like a full body exhale. Rather than worrying about being behind or getting ahead, get the most out of every experience and opportunity so you can one day be the panelist saying, this is how I did it.

5 Ways to Revamp the Workday

IMG_3282As Labor Day wraps up, there are backpacks being zipped up, PB&J’s getting sliced into squares, and butterflies circulating as many wonder what a new chapter will bring. This marks my first fall without classes, schedules, and bus schedules occupying my mind.

Rather than partaking in sorority recruitment, I was supporting a few chapters from afar. I swapped back to school shopping for a weekend outdoors filled with celebration and family. I entered the famous “first day” knowing what it would bring. Until I remembered I was in complete control of what I would bring to it.

Change is as constant as we make it. Here’s how I’m keeping things fresh for fall-

1. Know your stuff: In college when I had mostly major-focused courses and found myself often surrounded by Ad/PR peers, it was easy to live and breathe strategic communications. Being up to speed with agency news and marketing campaigns boosted my confidence in classes and my abilities.

However, working for a business consulting company has shifted my lens to HR and organizational development, an area I would otherwise know little about. As a result, that confidence I found when voicing my opinions about brands or ads doesn’t make as many appearances. So I have to work to uncover it again by reading Harvard Business review, LinkedIn pulse articles, and staying tuned into conversations even when I don’t understand the context. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but rather rediscovering what you know is already there.

2. Get your Z’s: I need to sleep. It’s not negotiable, no matter how many times I tried to argue it was, with all-night study sessions as my proof. That was then, this is now, End of story.

3. Be an expert:  I am in a unique and fortunate situation- I am the only one in my position, team, and department- I am Work Effects marketing. While I get to lead projects, vision cast, and make decisions, I lose the brainstorming and collaboration that comes from another perspective.

Like any millennial, I assumed the internet would have the answer to my hopes and dreams, and IMG_1835have made bloggers and writers worldwide my coworkers. By researching the best ways to produce webinars, tricks for hmtl coding, and staying updated with marketing news, I can present and execute ideas with the same confidence as I would after bouncing and rebuilding my idea off my cube-neighbor.

4. Take productive breaks: Skyway walks, creative writing bursts, and taking the time to have lunch away from my desk energizes me to stay focused the rest of the day. Not giving my body time to move or my brain time to run wild, I end up taking a break via Instagram, which has proven to have no positive impacts on my work.

Sometimes, I feel guilty for being “off task,” but if getting a burst of social interaction will make it easier for me to find spelling errors before I email hundred of consultants, then everyone wins. Furthermore, I almost always return with better ideas, solutions, and approaches. We need a little white space sometimes in order to see what’s in front of us.

5. Let passion lead: This one’s simple- go where there is energy, and bring your energy to where there isn’t. As a 1-person department, if I can get the dept to rally around something I am really excited about (lolz like that is hard) and I can get the key decision makers excited about it, soon enough it comes onto my plate. Direct towards passion and energy, and you direct towards quality.

Sometimes my projects get logistical and tedious, but bringing positivity to the task and taking productive breaks (ahem ^^) I can get them done faster and with more attention to detail- meaning rework’s time to shine has passed.

It won’t work perfectly everyday, but I’ve learned to stop waiting for perfection. I’d rather practice trying new things, fall down a few times, and find progress than wait for the perfect day, project, opportunity, job, or people to fall into my lap before I make moves. Let’s do it, September.

Brand of the Month- Lorna Jane

I like to consider myself a smart consumer. Aware of the details of the companies I support, I buy local when I think it matters most, and I’m conscious of the marketing and branding that attracts me to a product or organization. When I’m not doing those things, I work on being modest.

But I’m sure I’m not the only one who falls into this group. Social media, especially Instagram, is often at the root of this connection. It’s a way for a consumer to get a feel for something greater than products, you get an idea of what it would be like to work there and in the best cases, you IMG_2793feel like you’re a part of that family. Due to the pace of social media, consumers can get updates and information without waiting for the next production of a major commercial.

Active wear outfitters, Lorna Jane captures this power perfectly.

As lululemon, Under Armour, Athleta, and many more brands gain traction and headlines, there needs to be a way to stand out. This means standing out on social media too.

On Instagram, brands are able to learn more about the followers as well. Lorna Jane has chosen to focus on broadening the demographic of who could see themselves in their clothes. This becomes even more strategic and meaningful when you think of their competitor lululemon’s controversies with body shaming. it may just be a photo, posted on one day, but when the message resonates, it’s worth one thousand words.

IMG_3059Lorna Jane came on my radar when the Minneapolis-based studio Alchemy started carrying it. Seeing as I don’t own any LJ clothing (yet) I had no reason to build a personal relationship with their brand.

However, they have made an active lifestyle accessible and welcoming to all, which is a personal goal of mine as well. They have said yes, we are a lifestyle brand, but we’re also human.

By often featuring quotes, photos, and signatures of the founder, it creates a motivating connection you would normally expect from the best friend you call after the best and worst days.

B2C Brands don’t always have a choice anymore; social media is more of a given than a strategic idea. But how it’s approached is where the strategy comes in, and the difference is made. It’s the why and how that fascinates me, and makes me applaud brands like Lorna Jane. Furthermore, it makes me tag other followers that I know will appreciate the grams; or (as seen above)screenshot their Instagrams and send them to my friends.

They know we are paying attention, so they are doing the same.

 

Brand Personality Done Right

SW2Security lines that are a bit too long and bags of pretzels that are a bit too small always come to mind when I think of air travel. However, my weekend trip to Columbus via Southwest brought my attention to the importance of brand personality when fighting competitors for ticket sales.

Southwest understands this, and makes sure that their brand personality is present in every aspect of what they do.

I noticed this right away when getting on my first flight, the attendants and pilots made many jokes over the loud speaker and spoke in a very casual way. This included directions like, “please pretend you’re paying attention as we demonstrate safety features.”

The napkins that came with our drinks also had fun taglines like “Here’s to You” and the stirring stick in my coffee was shaped like a heart at the top, true to their brand imagery. When it was time for us to get off the plane, the pilot chimed in, “We are on time, so be sure to tell all of your family and friends, because we know you tell them when we’re late. Okay now get out of here and have a great day!”

Out of context, these details and interactions make the airline sound unprofessional. However, since they incorporated this as part of their brand personality, it can be expected of the company regardless of where you are flying from or what crew you are with.SW1

This is reinforced by their advertisements. One of which I saw in the skyway when boarding had a picture of a staffer, and it said, “Everyone has attitudes, our employees just have the right kind.” Another ad states, “We’d like to match their new fares, but we’d have to raise ours.” This recognizes the airline competition and allows consumers to associate Southwest with low prices and their distinct brand personality.

The most important piece when it comes to brand personality is remaining consistent. If it weren’t for the advertisements, napkins, and pilot’s dialogue, I may have thought I just had rude attendants. However, because their personality is so well represented and widespread, consumers understand their intention. It sets them apart as an organization who has employees that love their job, are loyal to the company, and enjoy serving their passengers.

This approach to brand personality is also in line with their relaxed practices, as you choose your own seat and boarding is grouped into A-B-C rather than dictated by seat number. However, having a strong brand personality can also backfire if a passenger doesn’t fully engage with the brand. For example, had I not taken Southwest both ways on my flight, had I not read the brand messages on their products, or seen the advertisements, I may have not understood that this was intentional.

Luckily for Southwest, brand personality is my favorite aspect of strategic communications, so I will remember them more fondly as a result of their effective brand representation.