Day In The Life: Startup Project Manager, Hillary For America

In the #dayinthelife series, we’re not always talking about long-term roles and jobs. There’s the whole world of project-based work, where you can choose what you want to work on and what projects speak to you in an authentic way. Project based work can take many forms- as an events manager, a marketing manager, and more- today, we’re focused on the role of project manager.
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Enter Patricia Zablah, tech-savvy project manager for startups and media who is passionate about showcasing diversity of all kinds and fostering it in the workplace. She is currently working as a project manager on the campaign Hillary for America, of the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States, Hillary Clinton. (#ImWithHer)!!! I sat down with Paty to talk about what it’s like to work on the campaign and be a part of history. Here are excerpts of our conversation.

  1. What is your official job title for the campaign?

I’m a Digital Organizing Tools Manager

  1. What are you responsible for? In other words, what part of the campaign puzzle do you work on?

I work on the Digital Organizing team, which is the team that works with organizers around the country to help them organize offline with the help of digital tools. The tools are built by our internal tech team, who are awesome! I am responsible for rolling those tools out across the 50 states, training people to use the tools (with the help of our team, of course) and I’m also responsible for gathering feedback for the tech team. Basically, I’m the bridge between the tech team and the people who use the tool, which is a really exciting place to be.

  1. What’s an example of a tool you work with state organizers to roll out?

Organizers are experts at talking to voters and educating people on absentee ballot requests, early voting, etc. All states have different roles around voter registration and absentee ballot requests so we work with states to say oh you want an event or people in your state want to organize an event and have it be on our site. The most important events for people to get involved in the campaign are things like phone banks and canvassing (knocking on people’s doors). One of our tools helps organizers create events, link those events to our site – www.hillaryclinton.com/events and make it easy for volunteers to sign up and help us elect Hillary!!

4. Tell me what a typical day is like working on the Hillary Campaign.

9:30am: Walk into work, sometimes after hitting the gym (when I’m feeling enthusiastic) and skim our daily news report that the entire campaign gets. We basically get a summary of how the media is covering the election- the good, the bad and the ugly. Sip my coffee and usually have breakfast at my desk that I bring from home.

10:00am– By this time, our slackbot has already reminded the entire HQ offices how many days we have until election day and our smaller team- the Digital Organizing team- has our daily slack check-in: what are you working on, do you need help? what’s the status?

11:00am – Meet with our HQ State leads who deal directly with our State Directors in our state offices. Talk about the challenges they are facing, what events they are preparing for, successes or problems they are having with our tools and how we can help.

11:45am– stand-up with the tech team. What is everyone working on? What are you struggling with? – Usually pretty quick.

12:15pm– by this time, I am starving so I usually head out to get some Dos Toros with friends at the campaign or sometimes, I bring my own lunch (wellness, remember?).

12:45-2pm– Block off time to work on product spec reviews, answering support emails from users, etc. Consolidating feedback from States in the morning to send to tech team.

2-3pm– Prepare for our Office Hours with users- where I look at what has been happening throughout the week, what could people benefit from us explaining and what new technology has been rolled out that we can share with them.

3-4pm– Office Hours call with ~60-80 organizers at a time using Maestro- a conference software that is incredibly complicated and I still have not mastered.

4-5pm– update user guides based on feedback from call.

5-8:30pm– This time is spent answering more emails, and if it’s Thursday, filling out my weekly report which is due on Friday mornings, slacking (on the Slack app), meeting with Tech team, Analytics team and States teams – sometimes reading our horoscopes to each other and then trying to head home at a reasonable hour to get enough sleep.

*Note: during this whole time, TVs are playing in the background with speeches from both parties, events, news, etc. I have headphones, of course.

5. What do you love about being a project manager for the campaign?

I love this work, first and foremost, because I believe Hillary should be the next President of the United States and I love that I get to have a part in making that happen. I also love working on this side of technology as a project manager, with a more user centric approach as opposed to a more product-based approach- which has been my experience in technology in the past. It is interesting to challenge myself in this way. I love working with a team who has a clear shared goal in mind- there is a clear focus on everyone’s piece of the puzzle to help achieve the measurable goal of “did Hillary win the presidency or not?” I love the direct impact I have and I love the people – everyone supports each other. We work 7 days a week and are under pressure so we all help each other out and support each other.

6. What’s the biggest challenge of working on the campaign?

We work a lot! So that can get challenging when you have to remember to take care of yourself and your family and friends as well. We get free Soulcycle classes because the owner is very supportive of HRC, so that definitely helps! Also, sometimes you have people who aren’t supportive of the campaign and you have to be aware of that in the way you carry yourself out in the world. Mostly in the digital world. It’s frustrating that some people think that when you share something or speak your mind about something related to politics, you are doing it as “part of a job” and not because you believe in it. Would I work here if I didn’t share the values that Hillary is fighting for?

 

Networking Using LinkedIn: How Do I Make it Worth my While?

I know, I know. I’m hearing a lot of groans through my computer screen from you. I can sense them! LinkedIn is obviously a really helpful tool and platform for SO many reasons, but people often get stumped when trying to use it for actual networking with people they don’t know. In other words, you know it could be a good avenue for you and open up some previously unseen doors, but it feels weird to reach out to “randos” on LinkedIn and besides, you wouldn’t even know what to say. Does that about sum it up?

I totally get it. If not done properly in a non-thought out way, it can be a little useless and feel funky, so I’m here today to share some tips – in chronological order- to make it useful and productive- and maybe even a little natural. I’ve been working with a couple of clients on this, so it’s top of mind, so I want to share some of it with you here. Read on, dear friend!:

LinkedIn

Check Out LinkedIn Premium: They give you a free month, so for this LinkedIn plan of action we’re about to embark on, it’s worth it. Why? Because you can see people’s email addresses, which is MUCH more useful than LinkedIn’s InMail system. I can’t tell you how many messages I miss from there- mainly, it’s because most people do not have their LinkedIn open all day and if your primary email is gmail, for example, emails notifying you that you….have an email go to that blasted social tab. Anyway, they’re easy to miss so emailing your top potential people via their actual email is the way to go.

Start Finding Peeps: Groups! Once you have LinkedIn Premium, joining relevant groups is the next thing to do. Not all groups are created equal, as I say to my clients, so it might take some due diligence on your part (e.g. Are all the posts sales posts or not conducive to discussion? Do people post frequently?). And you can always un-join a group that isn’t useful to your career goals if you realize it’s not great. Do a search for your field (e.g. “project manager groups”) and check out size, activity, level of discussion and level of professional. Check out the most frequent contributors. There’s also an added bonus that anyone in a shared group can be InMailed directly without a Premium account, if you decide not to get a premium account for the free month.

**Note: Don’t reach out to people willy nilly and don’t email blast the same email to dozens of people. This is a curated approach and not a ‘numbers’ game.

Start Finding Peeps: Connections! You might also already be connected to some relevant people that you might not even remember! Check them out and make note of them. Also, do a search for your field in your area (e.g. “project managers NYC” either in the basic or advanced search- NOTE: LinkedIn Premium also has more robust search options) and see if you have any 2nd degree connections that friends/1st degree connections can introduce you to.

Keep Track: If you have a CRM system like Highrise or your Outlook calendar, use that, but good ol’ Excel will help too. You can really go into the rabbit hole with this, so when you see someone that might be a good networking fit, add them to the list. What we’re going for here before even sending one email, is a list of 20-30 people you can start with to get your feet wet (you can always add more!). Ensure that you’ve captured relevant info like their contact info, how you ‘know’ each other (ie is it a group or a shared connection?) and why their profile piqued your interest. This will be important for the actual outreach.

Prioritize: Of those 20-30 people, who is the most natural fit? In other words, who can you imagine getting your email and being excited about the possibility of connecting with you? Yes, this is a two way street and you have something to offer as well, especially to those top 5-7 individuals you find. Maybe they posted something recently that you can help with or have a resource to share. Maybe they work at a company aligned directly with your values. Maybe they do what you do and you can share best practices. (This is the ‘why their profile piqued your interest” note in the last section, but it’s important because your outreach has to be thoughtful and targeted so we’re reiterating it here!)

Follow Up: You will not hear from everyone the first go around, so it’s absolutely worth following up (yes, even if they don’t know you) to show them you’re serious about this and didn’t just blast 200 people with the same email. Maybe they missed it or maybe they meant to get back to you but forgot. Believe me, ONE email follow up to an already cold email is not going to anger anyone (and if it does, do you want to be connected to that person anyway?). So, make follow up part of this process.

Timing: Using LinkedIn for networking usually isn’t the quickest way of getting a job, so if you’re looking for it to replace your current network and job searching, don’t. You might get lucky and contact someone at the exact right time, but this isn’t a “blitz” of cold-emailing 200 people the same email and hoping something sticks. This is a more curated approach and takes time. So this is ONE of the pieces of the job search and career development puzzle and shouldn’t take the place of other important elements. If you’re not in active job search mode, I recommend making this part of your Career Upkeep monthly- maybe spending 2 hours a month on this process. If you’re job searching, I recommend making the above steps part of your weekly process. Maybe on Mondays you do some research, Tuesdays you email and the following Monday you do your one follow up email. You’ll see what works for you.

Next week, I’m going to be sharing some actual outreach templates for these LinkedIn outreaches so stay tuned for that!

What have you done to reach out to people you don’t know on LinkedIN? Did it work? Not work? Share in the comments below!

Day In the Life Series: Leadership Coach

I am so jazzed to bring you this new series a couple times a month where I’ll lay down what it’s actually like to DO the career in question, through the eyes and voice of someone IN IT. Some of these stories are my clients, who we’ve transitioned to a new career, so in those cases you can also see how the career change transformation happens! We’ll also be talking to people at every stage of their career transition. We often see articles about people who have ‘made it’ but rarely do we see discussions with people who are making progress AND still figuring stuff out.

Enter Amy Hall. We sat down recently at Starbucks in Union Square with Amy, a former senior manager of training and talent development at SoulCycle, and we’re talking about her transformation to a leadership coach in New York City. Here are excerpts from our conversation.

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  1. Tell me where you were at (mentally, etc) when we met.

I would say at that point I had a sense for what I wanted to do. I wanted to work for myself and have that sense of freedom. On the other hand, I had an amazing job and definitely what would be perceived by others as an amazing job. Giving that up and starting a business felt irresponsible and scary and I didn’t have a super solid picture of what that looked like or how to do it. I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work and confused. Ultimately I was scared to make the change.

  1. What transformed for you?

Deciding to work with a coach is a huge investment in yourself. I knew I’d be responsible for taking action on my thoughts and I was excited about that. The transformation was in doing all the things I said I wanted to do for years. I actually DID them! Having someone to hold you accountable was huge, but also what was helpful for working with you specifically was that you were doing exactly what I wanted to do. So it was career coaching and business coaching. Figuring out who my ideal client was and getting to the root of what I wanted to do AND WHY. Did I really want to be a coach or was I looking for a way out of my current situation? I was able to cut through all that and really get to the bottom of it.

  1. What are you working on right now? I’m working on a few things! I have private clients that are looking to build confidence and develop their own unique leadership style, and some who are looking for accountability and encouragement through major life changes, and I’m also working with two small business owners who are looking to grow their company from a handful of locations to scale and so I’m helping them set a vision for what they want it to look like in 5-10 years. I am creating organizational structure and hiring plans. I’m working with them on leadership workshops for their senior leadership out in the field. I’m helping millennial managers- first time managers with almost no experience and huge responsibilities! I’m helping them define their leadership voice and helping them clarify their roles as the company is growing.

 

  1. You are in this huge discovery phase of really narrowing in on the type of work you love doing the most. Take me through a day in the life of having a lot of different coaching projects/opportunities that come your way?

I talk about what I’m doing with everyone and through word of mouth I’m getting a lot of different opportunities. Because I’m in a discovery phase, and I came coming out of an intense corporate environment, I feel like I’m re-programming and even getting to know myself a bit more. I’m learning how to create my own schedule, am I am morning person or am I a night owl? And when am I most productive? Which projects are and aren’t right for me? etc.

Mornings are for me. Me time. I’m usually up by 7AM and I read, write, meditate, or exercise until about 8:30AM. Those are the things I’ve decided to do to keep on track with how I’m feeling and stay present to which jobs or opportunities are and aren’t for me.

At 8:30AM I Set up my desk, open my laptop and get to work. Every day is different for me.

I have a blog and a newsletter and I’m passionate about creating digital easy to download content. I dedicate two days per week to my blog and writing because I really want to create content for people that is accessible without working with a coach. Before I decided to work with you, I spent 2-3 years trying to decide if I wanted to work with a coach. In that time, I tried to do a lot of stuff on my own. For example, I read a lot of books- some helpful, some not. I read and tried a lot and did a lot of self -discovery. There are a lot of people in that same space- that space of thinking about working with a coach for a long time. So when I spend these 2 days on my blog, I am working on content for people in that space to help simplify the process for them.

Three days a week I’m meeting with clients and doing a lot of free consults. I meet in person over coffee, via phone, and skype. I am working with a mix of small businesses and I’m starting working with WIN (Women’s Information Network). I’m doing a workshop with them this weekend. I am in the process of getting my name out there, and I’m letting people know what I’m doing so I can get as much experience as possible.

Another great thing I’m loving are my pay-what-you-can sessions. They are advice style 45min calls and I often refer to them as “power hours.” I wanted to provide an affordable introduction to the coaching relationship while also providing as much value as possible in a short period of time. You can read more about the pay-what-you-can sessions and how to sign up here.

There is still a lot I am figuring out but I am SO happy I made the investment in myself and took the leap. Really, a big thing I solidified while working with you is that I want and need freedom and creativity – and how important that is to me. So I’m trying to be thoughtful with how I spend my time and solidify my next steps!

 

3 Steps To Get Ready for Fall Hiring Season For Companies You Want to Work For

A bunch of my friends and colleagues (And clients, obviously!) are in Operation Job Search and I’ve noticed a bit of a theme emerging as I talk to them about it. I hear a lot of “spinning my wheels” comments or people telling me they “can’t get traction.” Other times, it’s not knowing where to put the effort. Or their brains are like mush and they can’t remember what they sent to whom and when and all that jazz. Hiring season sounds like dread to them.

Enter headaches, malaise and a (rightfully so) bad attitude on stage right. Amirite?

While there are no hard and fast rules on job searching (which is kinda what makes it the most annoying thing on the planet besides those desks made for right handed people and erasable ink), I am here today to share a 3 step plan and organization structure that, when followed, can help you maintain order, sanity and not feel like you’re sending things into the black hole.

First things first, though. While I do believe that every job search will entail you mailing in an application through an impersonal web portal, networking is the key name of the game here. 70-80% of jobs are gotten through a contact or an introduction (or an introduction YOU forge), so that’s where 70-80% of your energy should be for hiring season. Also, this article assumes you know the field and industry you’re applying to, so your job search is targeted. I do not recommend starting your job search when you’re applying to several different roles.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s dive into the 3 steps to dive into fall hiring season:

  1. Spend time listing out companies you’d like to work for. I recommend organizing it in Excel once you’ve determined they’re a contender for you to consider working for. You’ll want to get the info in one place such as website, contacts at the company, open positions (if any), next steps and status of your efforts. Really spend a couple of hours creating this master list. How many companies you have will depend on the size and maturity of the industry/field, so there are no hard and fast rules here. And of course you can always add to it! Just get a chunk of companies that you want to keep tabs on and build relationships with. You can use the simple Job Search Grid I’m providing here (and feel free to customize it!). This is Tab 1 of that workbook. hiring
    Apply for relevant open positions. 
    I like to batch this, so I’m not one-off applying to things and disrupting my flow with research and networking, but if a job has been posted for awhile (>3 weeks), then definitely prioritize it. The idea here is that as you’re researching companies in step 1, you’re also plopping open positions on tab 2- the job application tab. This is where you can keep track of open applications and your follow up. If you’re testing the efficacy of two different resumes, this is where you note which position got which resume. Make sure you’re updating this by taking closed applications off the list and adding to this list. I’d recommend if you’re in heavy job search mode to go into the tabs 2X per week and do a sweep so it doesn’t get out of hand and too daunting to update.
  2. Who Do Ya Know? The third tab on the grid is all about networking. You can absolutely add contacts you already have (and you should do this), but for purposes of this 1-2 punch blog post, we’re going to be talking about adding people at the companies you’ve identified in step 1. Check your LinkedIn for first and second degree connections first. Look at your alumni association and relevant industry groups on LinkedIn or Facebook. If it’s a second degree connection, tactfully ask for an introduction from your friend or colleague. Some contacts won’t actually be contacts yet and may entail reaching out cold. Make sure you’re keeping track of these conversations in your organization tool! 
    1. **Note: People ask me if the person has to be in the right dept or in HR. If it’s a cold email, yes, most likely. But if your 2nd degree connection is in IT and you’re in marketing, it’s still worth the convo to see if the company is a fit for your values and talents before pursuing it further. And who knows- if the convo goes well and you build up a rapport, perhaps your new friend will pass your resume along to the right people!

Remember, this approach to hiring season is relationship-heavy. This means it’s about building relationships, meeting people at those companies (through alumni associations, other groups, events they’re speaking at, etc). This is not an approach for someone who wants to blast 100 applications out in one fell swoop. The BENEFIT here, however, is that you are mindfully created the universe of companies you want to bring your talents to and you’re systematically and mindfully creating relationships with them.

Turning Anxiety Into Success- Career Change Edition

Every person I’ve helped with his or her career change is different- different dreams, personalities and skill sets. However, there is one commonality among everyone- there is always some degree of anxiety. The fear and worry of making the wrong choice. The all-or-nothing-oh-my-god-what-if-I’m-ruining-my-life feelings of utter dread. Although the degree of intensity of the feelings differs, some level of anxiety around this move exists for nearly everyone. If you’re reading this and thought you were alone, you’re not.

This anxiety is often what prevents people from taking a leap and seeing what might be possible for them, so the fact that you’re still reading this posts shows you’re intrigued by what might be possible for you.

As I move toward launching the Career Change Kitchen Online Course, I’m really aware of this crippling fear that threatens to keep us firmly planted in our current misery/boredom/combo thereof, so I wanted to spend some time helping you reframe your anxiety so you can actually USE IT to get moving on your career change.

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How?

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CAREER CHANGE KITCHEN, GET A FREE MINI COURSE AND BE NOTIFIED WHEN WE’RE READY TO GOOOOOO.

  1. The Worst Case Scenario Test. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you embark on this career change and don’t like it?” Write it out in as descriptive terms as possible. BE SPECIFIC. Then ask yourself a) how likely it is that that will happen and b) if it did happen, what could be some possible solutions? Let me put it in very real terms for you. When I was deciding to leave the events world, I felt crippling dread that I would fail. Even when I launched my business, I was all, “WHAT IF THIS DOESN’T WORK, I AM DOOMED!” Also- secret time: I STILL have moments like that from time to time. But I always tell myself that my worst case scenario is to become an employee again at a company. And when I think about that as my worst case, it’s not really bad at all! The WCS for me is not eviction and hunger and no home. Think about what your WCS. Naming it and facing it before you walk away from pursuing a career change (again) is a huge part of continuing to move forward.
  2. Use Anxiety to Your Advantage. This one’s cool. An article in the Atlantic earlier this year talked about using your anxiety in a positive way. Instead of the idea of “Keep Calm and Carry On” or trying to forcibly calm yourself down when you’re feeling anxious, this idea of “anxiety reappraisal” comes down to telling yourself you feel excited when you feel anxious. The idea here, according to the author and the studies, is that anxiety and excitement are both arousal feelings so it’s easier to move from anxiety to excitement rather than from anxiety to calm. Check out the article for how she recommends you proceed.
  3. Practice. Just because you do either of these things once doesn’t mean the switch is flipped and you never experience anxiety about changing your career again. It’s about keeping that mindset top of mind and being aware when you’re slipping into the dark hole of career change anxiety. In the Career Change Kitchen Online Course, I work with you on mindset stuff and help you move through it. Here’s some more info on the course (and click the button to get notified when we’re ready for launch!)

Just to hammer home the point, if you’re feeling anxious about the idea of changing your career, that’s a GOOD THING. It shows you’re also potentially EXCITED about the opportunity. And I can’t stress this enough- you are not alone in this up and down roller coaster my friend!

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CAREER CHANGE KITCHEN COURSE, GET A FREE MINI COURSE AND BE NOTIFIED WHEN WE’RE READY TO GOOOOOO.