The 14 lessons I’m taking with me in 2014

keep calmWow, can you believe 2013 is over? It went by extremely fast and was full of challenges. 2013 taught me some big lessons – most of which occurred during the one month I wasn’t employed full-time. Only those closest to me know, but in late August, I was laid off. I was shocked, confused and thought I would be the last person to ever encounter such an experience; but it happens to even the best of us despite a great performance.

The next few weeks were a blur. In the matter of a month, I interviewed at some of the largest companies in Columbus. It was a chaotic mess consisting of me spilling coffee on my suit before interviews, cramming company mission statements into my brain, memorizing job descriptions so that I could ask the perfect questions and LinkedIn stalking future interviewers like I had just been dumped and was trying to see if that loser had come up with a better girlfriend.  But, what I learned during that month was invaluable – so much so, I needed to share these lessons that stretch far beyond a term of unemployment or the year 2013. I’ll share 14 in honor of 2014.

Here goes.

Relationships matter. I HATE networking. I love meeting new people, but not in forced, awkward situations where you feel obligated to make small talk about silly topics like the weather and sports. It’s like the date where all you want to do is yell, “check please” or sneak out of the bathroom window. Let’s face it, no one actually likes professional networking, but it’s a necessity. If I didn’t have a strong network to turn to, I don’t know where I would have even started after losing my job.

A mentor is essential. To this point, I have never had a true mentor. Of course, I have people in my network who are older and provide their advice, but I don’t have one person I go to for continual career guidance. When I lost my job, I felt panicked and stressed to say the least. It would have been nice to turn to one person and say, “What do I do?” I recommend any career-focused young professional to get a mentor and get one fast. I still don’t have one, but I’m actively taking applications. If you’re reading this and want to be that lucky person, let me know.

Don’t compare yourself to others. One of my very best friends was laid off at the same time. It was nice having someone to share the experience with. But, unannounced to him, it was war. I wanted a job first. He got an offer before me, and I was ticked. I had to realize things happen in their own time.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or embarrassed to admit you’re unemployed. Every single person I met, I avoided the “What do you do?” question like the black plague. I didn’t want to have to say, “I’m unemployed.”  However, you never know how that person can help you. They might have a connection you’ve been dying to make. 

No one owes you anything. I know that is hard to hear if you’re a millennial. No one cares how many degrees you have, how intelligently you can speak or just how snazzy you are dressed. What people do care about is this: who you know, your ability to connect with the company’s culture and your knowledge of the company and position you’re applying for.  And maybe your qualifications. But, the majority of companies hire for personality because if you’re applying for a specific job, they know you can probably do the job since you’re applying. That’s why they’re interviewing you. What they don’t know is if you’ll mesh with the rest of the employees or if you’ll cause problems.

Always be humble. When you have a job, it’s easy to get comfortable and forget to be thankful.

Your freedom fund is important. Yeah, I had a savings and it got me through the month without a normal income, but it could have been and SHOULD have been a lot bigger. I am meeting with a financial advisor to help me save smart and invest wisely.

Work should be a part of your life. Not your whole life. If you know me at all, you know I’m a workaholic. When my job was suddenly, without warning, taken from me, I felt like a lost puppy in the rain wondering where his home was. That might be a stark analogy, but it’s true. For the first few days, I didn’t even know where to begin. Okay, I did, but it took a couple of days for me to pull up my big girl panties and muster the courage to do what I knew I had to do. The truth is, you can sit in the floor and cry all you want. But, it doesn’t change a thing. You still have to pick yourself back up and keep moving. I shouldn’t live to work. I should work to live.

Don’t give up. Enough said. Work hard. It will pay off in dividends.

Smile on even your worst days. Always search for the silver lining. It’s there. You just have to find it.

Don’t stop your whole life. I quit working out. I quit eating right and skipped meals. I quit doing almost everything. Literally, all I wanted to do was job search. But, I had to find a balance. For me, it was playing basketball on the court next to my apartment when no one else was there in the middle of the day. It was relaxing and helped me clear my head and gather my thoughts.

Take a risk. Even if the job description calls for a certain skill or quality you don’t have, apply anyway if you think you’d be a good fit. You never know if the employer just might think the same thing.

Be yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously and be transparent on interviews. Let your personality shine.

How to cook. That’s right. Without the stringent full-time schedule, I learned my way around the grocery store and kitchen. It was about time.

2014 will bring its own challenges, and I’m committed to putting these lessons into practice. I’m also committed to working harder, worrying less, reading more and loving stronger.


The client/agency love and hate relationship

client-agencyOkay, my dearest agency friends and my dearest internal marketing friends, listen up. This post is for everyone in the industry. The client/agency relationship is often a love/hate one. As someone who has been on both ends of the bottle neck, I sympathize with all parties involved. Really, I do. Its no secret agencies have what we call “difficult clients.” And its no secret, clients have their own pet peeves about their agency. However, both parties need to realize a few things and go into the relationship with these items in mind to avoid frustrations and to get the most out of the relationship. The client/agency relationship is just like a romantic one. To be a good one, it requires giving and taking, solid communication and trust.

With that said…

5 things agencies need to remember

  • Your client contact is busy. I know hard to believe, right? Sometimes your email slips through the crack. It isn’t personal. But, please don’t nag. If we haven’t responded in two or three days, give us a call. If it’s urgent, always call and don’t rely on email.
  • Your expertise and opinion matters. Speak up and let us know if you think a certain idea, tactic or strategy will or will not work and why. As the client, we are paying you for your opinion, so please tell us and don’t hold back at the fear of getting fired. Even if we don’t take your advice, we appreciate your input and it shows initiative.
  •  Your client needs many approvals. In most cases, clients have many approvals they need to receive before rolling out any sort of marketing, PR or branding initiative. So, please be patient with us. This relationship is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about our company. We like agencies that aren’t constantly asking us questions that the answers can be found online.
  • Break it down. Again, as the client, we come to you for expertise. This means we don’t have the amount of knowledge you do about a certain topic. When explaining to us a strategy, use clear language and be sure to explain it in terms we can understand.

5 things clients need to remember

  • Your agency can’t read your mind. If you have a specific vision, share it with us. We are here to help. But, we can’t read your mind, and we will only give to you what you clearly communicate to us.
  • Your agency is also busy. Shocking. But, unfortunately, we can’t sit by the phone and wait for you to call. You and the relationship are VERY important to us; but, sometimes we need a little extra time to get to everything on your list.
  • Respond if you want something done. We know you’re busy (see above), but just like you need approvals, we need yours, in most cases. Therefore, it’s unrealistic to expect us to have completed a job if you haven’t responded on action items that will keep the project moving forward.
  • There is only so much information on the Internet. This means that even if we do the best research about your company, we are still going to have ongoing questions as the relationship continues. Please don’t get annoyed and realize we want to keep learning to keep producing great results for you.
  • Just like you, we’re human and we make mistakes. Clients often expect their agency to produce perfect work, always. But, that is unrealistic. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. But, rest assure as soon as we realize the mistake, we will do everything we can to fix it.
  • Bonus 6th one. Trust us. We have your best interest in mind.

Whether you’re on the client or agency side, try to remember these items; and before you trash talk that difficult client or black list your agency on file, always ask yourself “what can I do differently to produce a different outcome?” Both parties want the other to be successful, so let’s help each other out.

25 things no one in their 20’s should feel bad about

You always hear your 20’s are the best years of your life. Well, they might be. But, I’m more excited about my early 30’s. Whatever decade is better, one thing is for sure, being young is the best time in your life, but it’s also the worst. Everyone I know, including myself, is trying to discover their identities, find their true passions and determine what really makes them happy all while working endless hours to climb some ladder in whatever field. Your 20’s is like a winding roller coaster with no end in sight. You gain friends. You lose friends. You break-up. You make up. You say I love you. You say I hate you. You fall asleep wondering how the next five years will play out. You wonder what challenge the next day will bring.

Everyone goes through the same things, and there are a few things we should stop beating ourselves up for. So, I’ve put together a list of the things I think no one in their 20’s should feel bad about. Like everyone over the age of 50 tells us, try to enjoy everything about this messy, beautiful time in your life.

25 things no one in their 20’s should feel bad about

  1. Not being on the ‘right’ track. Who said you have to finish college at 22 and grad school at 25? No one did. Do what you need to do, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for it.
  2. Telling someone the truth.  Unless it’s your mother-n-law, be honest with the people around you. Honesty is a trait that will serve you well in life.
  3. Hurting someone’s feelings. Inevitably, we will all hurt someone’s feelings. It might be a friend, a lover, a family member. But, it will happen. The key is to apologize, understand what happened and move on. Don’t dwell on it.
  4. Lying in bed all day eating pancakes and watching movies.  I once dated a guy who all he wanted to do on Sundays was just that. I eventually had to go along with it. I had to realize nothing productive was going to get done on Sundays anyways. Just face it. You won’t be productive every minute of every day. You can’t be; and it’s okay. The world won’t come to an end.
  5. Telling your boss you’re feeling overwhelmed.  Unless you work for the devil himself, which some of you might, your boss will want to know how you’re feeling. Believe it or not, they want you to be happy.
  6. Not getting everything done you wanted to in one day. Unless you’re on deadline, don’t sweat it. Come back to it the next day. It’ll still be waiting.
  7. Staying in on a weekend night.  Just because you’re 20-something doesn’t mean you have to go out every weekend. Staying in is just fine. And, if you want to get ahead, it might require a few Saturday nights with you, the couch, your laptop, and a glass of red putting in some serious overtime.
  8. Going to happy hour two days in a row. It’s called happy hour for a reason. Enough said.
  9. Making a mistake at work. It will happen. Some might be larger than others, but everyone’s human. Your boss doesn’t expect you to be perfect. You will make mistakes. Here’s how to fix it. Admit the fault, and immediately implement a procedure to never let it happen again.
  10. Rewarding yourself for a job well done.  It’s okay to spend money on yourself. And if you’re young and educated, like most of you reading this are, remember, you worked hard to create a nice life for yourself. Don’t forget to enjoy it. 
  11. Feeling crappy on a Monday morning. Its Monday. You’re allowed to. And don’t schedule any meetings before 1pm. They’ll be wildly unproductive.
  12. Losing touch with a good friend.  It’s bound to happen. It’ll hit you like a ton of bricks when you realize it. But, at this time, you’re going through so many changes, personally and professionally, there’s bound to be some casualties along the way.
  13. Going out on a weekday.  Just because it’s Tuesday, doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. 8am the next day will come fast, but that’s what coffee is for.  
  14. Wishing you could throw rocks at all the people who went to high school or college with that are now engaged, married or have kids. This might rattle some feathers, but I don’t feel bad for telling anyone I meet my age that is any of the above that they’re stupid. You’re stupid. There I said it. You have been hit upside the head. What the hell is wrong with you? Date, be in love. Be crazy in love, JUST. DON’T. BE. STUPID. You can send hate mail here.
  15. Being Single. To piggy back off the last one, don’t let anyone around you make you feel bad for being single. Let things happen naturally, and don’t force a relationship, just to be in one. It’ll end poorly.
  16. Turning down the advances of someone you’re not interested in. If you’re not attracted to the person or if they don’t spark your interest, don’t waste your time.  And no need to bring up the ‘let’s be friends line.’ No, that’s awkward. The both of you have enough friends.
  17. Doing something you’ll regret or putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation. We’ve all been there. Just try not to freak out about it too much. Whatever it was, it made you who you are today.
  18. Giving your heart to someone who didn’t deserve it. It’s okay, everyone does it. But then one day, you’ll come to your senses and ask them to give it back. Maybe not literally, but you get the point.
  19. Crying in public. It’s like the whole puking in public concept. It’ll happen and you’ll feel like an idiot. But, oh well. I once found myself crying on a COTA bus. My boyfriend, at the time, was moving away for work and had left the day before. But, don’t worry, it wasn’t the ugly cry. It was the much more subtle tear up. Also, crying in general, i.e., in private, is also totally acceptable.
  20. Asking for help. You can’t do everything on your own, no matter how strong-willed you are. I hate asking for help. It makes me feel weak, like I can’t take care of myself. But, then I have to realize, no matter how hard I try, I can’t be superwoman—and I have people in my life who care about me for a reason.
  21. Spending half your paycheck on something frivolous. Yep, it’ll happen, maybe a few times—most likely after you get that first “real paycheck.” Just only let it happen after your bills are paid.
  22. Asking stupid questions or questions at all. You can’t know everything, even if you tried. And with barely living any life, it’s impossible. So, ask questions. Ask as many as you want. If you meet someone with a cool profession, grill them. Get the dirty and file away that information.
  23. Being jealous of someone more successful than you. Everyone get’s jealous. But, don’t let it eat you up. Throw that energy into something productive.
  24. Someone under appreciating you. This could be anyone, a friend, a boss, anyone. Don’t take it personal. Whoever they are, they probably don’t even mean it. You’re awesome, even if the people around you forget say thank you.
  25. Reveling in your hobby. Whatever it is, no matter how nerdy or weird it might be, do it and don’t let anyone give you grief for it. In order to stay sane at any point in your life, not just your 20’s, you need a hobby.

I’m sure you can relate to at least one thing on this list. But, do you think there’s something missing? Tell me.