Lizzy's List - 9 Life Lessons Brought to Me by CMM
As my time at Cheeky Monkey Media comes to an end, I thought I would share a list of the life lessons I learned while working with these amazing Monkeys (some of them probably aren’t fit for a corporate blog post). Giving me my first “big girl” job out of college is something I will forever be grateful for. I also want to give a big thank you to all the people behind the company for the laughs, lessons, and nerf wars - you guys are some pretty cool cats.
*OH! For those of you reading who are looking for a digital marketing/development powerhouse, you will be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable and hardworking company.
1. Never Stop Learning
It became very clear, very quickly, that continuously growing my knowledge base was going to be the biggest factor for my personal success. Having graduated with a business degree, I had a decent understanding of the business world and basic insights into accounting, marketing, sales, and management. While my education has helped my mindset during my time at CMM and will continue to aid me throughout my entire life, it was not enough.
It seems pretty obvious, right? I mean that’s what training is for - to learn about the company, the industry, and your position. Learning is a necessary step for every new employee in every industry - it’s called the learning curve. The onset is the hardest and eventually it levels out. Well, I’d like to challenge people to keep the slope of their own curve steep - don’t ever let the learning slow down or get easy.
While I was prepared for the steep learning curve at the onset of my Business Development Coordinator position, I was not prepared for it to never end. Technology (and many other industries) are ALWAYS progressing. Every time I learned a new concept, five other concepts would pop up out of nowhere. There is never going to be a day that I understand the entire field I work in, and that excites the hell out of me.
I have found that there are leaders in the industry that I connect with. They are the resources (digital mentors) I utilize to grow my skill set. I strongly recommend finding a few people you look up to in your own industry to learn from. In digital marketing, I have gravitated towards - Talia Wolf, Neil Patel, Rhea Drysdale, Sarah Cooper (not necessarily a digital marketer, but she’s f*cking funny and smart), and Samuel Scott. There are also sources I use to catch up on trends and relevant news like Feedly, Medium, and Convince & Convert.
There are influencers in every industry, so find some that resonate with you and keep learning.
Staying informed and expanding my skill set not only makes me more valuable to the company I work for, but enables me to grow as a creative and innovative professional. This, by far, has been the most important professional lesson I have learned.
2. Friends Come in All Shapes and Sizes
The majority of my friends, before my job at CMM, came from school and serving gigs. Generally speaking, they shared the same interests and demographic traits as me (mid twenties, social, college students, servers, etc.). Makes sense, right? I never thought one of my good friends would end up being a crazy talented artist dude in his mid forties, but that’s how the cookie has crumbled.
CMM is filled with people from all walks of life whom I have had the great pleasure to get to know. If there is anything I have learned, it’s to keep an open mind about friendships and don’t close yourself off to people just because they don’t share 70% of the same traits as you. Many laughs, lessons, and life long friendships will result from it.
3. Tech isn't all Fun and Games
There are so many posts explaining how awesome working in tech is, and they are true. Tech is a blasty blast. CMM has a foosball table smack dab in the middle of the office, a fully stocked beer fridge, and there are often impromptu nerf gun wars - does it get much better?
BUT don’t think that’s all it is. It’s hard work. There are stressful, challenging times - just ask anyone who started up a company only for it to fail. To succeed you have to grind. Days go by and no one touches the foosball table (no, seriously - it’s a barren wasteland in the middle of the office) because heads are down and shit is getting done - it’s called business.
I did not feel shocked at the amount of hard work it takes to succeed in the industry, but it was a lesson learned. Often only the good, the benefits, and the fun is portrayed, while the not-so-glamourous aspects are tucked away. Remain cognizant of this, and you won’t be disappointed to find out that beer is typically consumed only on Friday’s, and you will be working 40+ hours a week just like everyone else with a full time job.
4. The Best People to Work with are Your Exact Opposite
Typically people are attracted to those with similar personalities and interests. Try to overcome this phenomenon in the workplace. Working with your polar opposite will create much better results than working with another you - lesson one in my Leadership class at business school.
For the short time I was in marketing at CMM this proved to be true. I was partnered up with Spela whom happens to be VERY detail oriented and focused - thank goodness! As I am more of a big picture, creative type we ended up working really well together, balancing out one another's weaknesses with our strengths. She helped me see the importance in the minor details I would normally skip over, and the value of putting thoughts and plans into writing. I’ll forever have a little Spela on my shoulder asking me what the objective of my task is.
5. You Never Know Until Your Try
Everyone always told me I’d be great in sales. I have service experience, people skills, and the go-getter attitude that typically make up a good salesperson. So, I gave it a go and guess what? It wasn’t my jam.
I loved interacting with people, but I found that I wasn’t able to utilize creative side of my brain as much as I wanted to, so after 8 months I migrated into a marketing role. I don’t look back at my time in sales as a failure - in fact, I’m happy I was able to test it out at the beginning of my career path. I now know what sales entails, learned a TON about the tech industry, and was able to work in a wonderful team - priceless.
I’m just starting out in digital marketing and so far I’m loving the work. It enables me to both interact with people and tap into the right side of my brain (HALLELUJAH!). The point is, if I didn’t give sales a go, I wouldn’t know whether or not it was the right path for me. They say you change careers 5-7 times throughout your working life, so if for some reason a certain path doesn’t make you tick, join the club and make a change.
6. Set Goals. Or Don't, and just be Super Unmotivated
Working in sales meant I had monthly quotas to meet to reach commission levels. Those goals were set out for me. I knew exactly what I needed to accomplish each month to put money in my pocket - motivation enough to werk. Sales just works that way, but marketing has been a bit different.
Of course the company’s goal is to grow sales, increase revenue, build brand awareness, etc. - the usual. The purpose of marketing is growth. Okay, well that’s all fine and dandy, but growth takes time, a lot of effort, and multiple channels. “Growth” can feel a bit overwhelming. So, to combat the feeling that all of the efforts put forth weren’t producing any results, CMM had us develop micro goals.
These micro goals could literally be anything. Currently I’m working on engaging more people on the CMM social media channels. Of course getting more followers on Twitter, and more Likes on Facebook isn’t the same as capturing an inbound sale, BUT it is a step. I’m pretty stoked about the micro goals because they keep me motivated, they are easy to track, to test, and to adapt.
I definitely recommend that everyone develops these little goals to help break down the overlying objective. It boosts motivation tremendously and is a method I will take with me through my work and personal life.
7. Have Hobbies Outside of Work
“Leave work at work” - this is something that I still need to work on. I get home and tell my boyfriend about everything that happened at work that day (I know he would rather talk about other things). I think about what I need to get done the next day, what I could have done better that day, and struggle to just leave it all at the door on my way out.
Luckily, I keep myself busy enough outside of work that I am able to combat my shortcoming. After work I typically go to the gym, go for a run, or take the pup for a walk. By the time I get home it’s time for dinner, maybe a little TV, maybe a little reading, then bed time. On Mondays I get together with my buddies and play on a beer league softball team - it’s seriously a blast. Weekends are spent hiking, skiing, exploring new places in the Okanagan, seeing friends, and spending time with family. I really don’t leave much time to take my work home and I highly recommend doing the same. Balance is instrumental to happiness - make sure you allow yourself to form interests outside of work.
8. Be Adaptable
Change is inevitable. In ALL parts of life it is inevitable. Get used to it. Sometimes it happens when you aren’t ready for it. Sometimes the change isn’t what you had envisioned. Sometimes you’re going to want to resist. I’ve learned that in the work environment it is necessary to be adaptable - especially when you aren’t the boss.
Now, for people with strong personalities and opinions *cough, me and Sheldon* this is not the easiest thing to be. It takes practice. I tend to love change, but have realized that I’m more prone to loving it mostly when I’m in control of the direction. Pivoting on someone else’s command is much different. Learn to be adaptable, seriously. Once you can master this skill, work life becomes MUCH easier.
9. Be True to Yourself
Not everything everyone says is going to resonate with you - another fact of life. Sometimes you will even be offended (though most of the time it will not be intended). The most important takeaway from this is to be true to yourself. Sometimes that means sticking up for what you believe in, and sometimes it means turning the other cheek. In a work environment this can prove to be more difficult than in your everyday life. Whatever you choose to do, stay true to yourself and your values. You will never regret it. I promise.
Big thanks to Cheeky Monkey for the amazing times and another big thanks to everyone else for reading,