A reminder of perspective

I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling a little down about work lately. I’m chalking it up to a minor “quarter life crisis” – which I know I’m not alone in experiencing – and putting an unnecessary amount of pressure on myself to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Do I want to stay in advertising?

Do I want to move to the non-profit sector?

Should I freelance?

Are there other interests outside of agriculture that I should tap into?

Should I be looking at things closer to home, friends and family?

I know that none of these are questions that need to be answered right now, and that I should just stop and take a breath. But it’s just so hard sometimes, when you feel like there’s just so much to figure out! Thankfully, I got to have an experience at work last week that gave me a little bit of perspective.

Right now our agency is working on a little self reflection, trying to discover where we want to be in the future and what steps we need to take to get there. As a part of the process, I got to be part of a focus group. The group was made up of people mostly in my age group, from all different disciplines and departments. We were asked about our thoughts on agency culture, where new business might come from and the creative process. One of the best perspective gaining questions that got asked, though, was the first one we got started with:

Why do you like working here? What makes you get up in the morning every day?

What I loved is that, across 10 or so people around the table, there were common themes that resonated with all of us and prove that yes – despite my constant panic about whether I should shift course – this really is a great place to work.

We don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Minneapolis is a big advertising/PR town, with shops that are doing globally recognized work. We do great work in our office, too, but you won’t see us jet-setting to Cannes or only doing work for high profile, “flashy” companies. We know our clients and their business and that’s why they hire us. We work hard to bring them new insights and ideas and, at the end of the day, we relax over a drink and some happy hour snacks. We love what we do, but we don’t have to stick our nose up at everyone else to do it. We’d rather challenge you to a game of Crud instead.

We value the fact that employees have lives outside of work.

While we expect that the work gets done well, on time and on budget, our senior management (and clients) also understand that people have interests and families outside of our walls. Unlike other “run ’em ragged” shops, people on our team will raise an eyebrow if you’re still in the office after 6:00 or if you say you’re skipping a kid’s baseball game because you’re trying to get work done. Work is only one part of our lives – it doesn’t do well to make it the only focus.

We put a lot of faith in young talent.

This is one that’s especially good for me to be reminded of every so often, especially when I get caught up in all the things I don’t feel very confident in. At my agency, our leadership has faith in young talent. There are 20-somethings (like yours truly) who get tons of responsibility over strategy development and project execution for lead brands of our biggest clients. When we prove that we can handle the challenge and can be trusted to make smart choices, we’re given the opportunity to lead. That’s huge.

So next time I get stuck in a “What in the heck am I going to do with myself for the rest of my career?!!?” place, I’m going to look back on this list and remember – I’m in a pretty good place to figure it out.

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6 Ideas for New Hire Onboarding

With the arrival of summer interns and a slew of new hires thanks to expanding business, my company is re-evaluating our onboarding procedure (which is really to say, we’re creating one).

Now, I for one think that your first week at a new job is one of the hardest. Not only do you not know anyone, but you’re also learning a bunch of new processes and — despite being eager to jump in — don’t know enough about the business to just start taking things and running with them.

Knowing those challenges, we’ve brainstormed some ideas that I think would be great additions to any new employee program. I don’t know that we’ll put them all into action but maybe there’s one or a few that you think would work in your office!

Introduce the company mission or vision
For Millennials especially, we want to know what our employer is trying to achieve or the mark they want to leave on the world — and how we can contribute to that. Start introducing the company mission to new employees from the start and help them discover how they can live it every day.

Make a buddy system
Where in the building can you get a Diet Coke? Who do I go to when I need to order office supplies? What does Bob Smith do again? These are just a few of the questions that a new employee may be wondering but not know who to ask. Sure, there’s always your manager, but why not have a buddy? We thought it’d be great if new hires — especially those straight out of school — had a “buddy” that was at their same position, maybe also somewhat new to the company, to answer the questions that seem silly until you get to know more people.

Provide an organization chart
If your company is anything like mine, there are lots of people with titles that may mean little to nothing to you if you’re new to the industry. Having an easy to understand org chart helps new employees learn names and what people do (make sure to include pictures!).

Create “Our Company 101”
Despite the fact that you just interviewed with your employer, know the basics and it seems like a great place to work, there may still be holes in your knowledge of what they actually do. For us, that missing information might be who our largest clients are, how we make money and what our short and long term goals are. Consider creating some sort of introductory document or presentation that helps new employees get more comfortable with the inner workings of the business.

Training materials, practice assignments and/or tutorials
One of the hardest part of starting a new job IMO is staying busy until you know the business well enough to generate your own work. For new employees, consider having a set of training modules/tutorials that teach skills they’ll need or practice assignments that mimic what they’ll be doing. For us, examples might be an online tutorial on basic HTML or writing a creative brief based on a fictional scenario. For your business it might be something else, but make sure the tasks are relevant to their position and help get them up to speed on what you’ll expect from them in the future.

Lunch and happy hours
I’m a firm believer in the power of lunches and happy hours to get to know people. Make sure you’re inviting new employees to lunch and happy hours with people at all levels of the company to build those connections in a more casual setting.

I know there are lots of other ways to welcome new people to your organization, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. Make sure to share what your company does or other ideas in the comments!

Let’s Hear It for the Girls: Meet Brandi Buzzard Frobose!

For as big as the world is, it’s always funny to me when you realize that it’s actually really small at the same time. I definitely had one of those “small world” moments when I met this week’s “Let’s Hear It for the Girls” guest. Brandi and I met through #agchat (a Twitter conversation for people involved in agriculture) but we have only met in real life a couple of times. Despite that, within a short time of knowing her, I learned that I already knew her boyfriend (now husband) from my internship with the National Swine Registry. Yup – small world.

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten to learn more about Brandi and one thing no one can deny is that this girl lives her passions day in and day out. I hope you enjoy learning more!

Background

Current location:
Manhattan, KS

It doesn’t take long to figure out that Brandi Buzzard Frobose is passionate about a lot of things (including rooting for K-State!). She definitely puts her passion for the cattle industry to work in her role with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Originally from:
Colony, KS

Education (college/major):
B.S. – Dual major: Animal Sciences and Industry/Agricultural Economics – Kansas State University
M.S. – Animal Science; Behavior, Well-Being and Health – Kansas State University

Job title and company:
Manager, Issues Communication – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)

Brief description of NCBA:
We represent the American beef producer and work diligently to promote and maintain  consumer confidence in beef.

Where were you before NCBA?
Kansas State University/Beef Cattle Institute

How did you become interested in working in the cattle industry?
As long as I can remember I’ve been interested in animal science. During my first year of graduate school, my passion for talking to people about animal science elevated to new levels and that started my journey to where I am today.

Around the Office

Office culture in a few words:
Extremely laid-back; but my office mates, Rooster and Cricket, keep me company and  drive me crazy all at the same time.

A day at work looks like:
A normal day contains one or more of the following: checking major news outlets for hot button issues, coordinating appropriate responses to issues with our team, writing  content for any one of a number of projects, researching issues or events, editing and a  smidge of social media.

Favorite part of your job:
I am privileged to represent America’s beef producers AND I get to do something  different every day!

Biggest challenge you face at your job:
Being a remote employee makes it difficult to pull away from the computer. At the end of  the day, I sometimes forget to unplug and ‘go home.’

Apps (or other tech) you can’t live without:
Actually, I could pretty easily live without social media and the internet! I could absolutely not live without my iPod, though (although I did own a Discman back in the day).

Style

Your personal style in a few words:
Purple. Laid back.

Office dress code:
I work from home so I can either be found in jeans and a K-State t-shirt or running shorts and, you guessed it, a K-State t-shirt.

Go-to work outfit:
When I am going to be in the Denver or D.C. office or if I’m going on a work trip, I’m  almost always wearing a bright blazer, khakis and square toed boots.

On-the-go kit:
Right now my purse contains my wallet, check book, three tubes of Chap Stick, bobby  pins, a coozie, a lint roller, pens, a notepad and my sunnies.

Next splurge item you’re planning for:
A saddle for my barrel horse

Lifestyle

Morning routine:
Brush teeth, grab a banana and make the long commute to my office down the hall.

Favorite spot for brunch:
Early Edition – Manhattan, KS

On Saturday, you can be found:
Outside!

Favorite spot for a 10-minute break:
Outside, throwing a ball for the mongrels of the house

Hobbies:
Rodeoing, vehemently cheering for my K-State Wildcats, visiting friends and family,  planning my next globetrotting escapade

When you have a day off, how do you spend it?
Since I work from home, when I take a day off I use it to get out of the house – ride my  horses, go golfing, visit family or friends or go with my husband to a stock show.

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A vet – young people who want to be in animal science really only know of one or two jobs in that field and veterinarian is the leading option.

Dream job:
I cannot wait to buy cows and start ranching. If I could stay home, raise cattle and rodeo  that would be perfect.

One thing everyone should do when visiting your city:
Go to a K-State sporting event – we really are a family out here on the plains. The  camaraderie and team spirit is contagious!

Cause you’re passionate about:
Breast cancer – it’s nasty and doesn’t care who it affects. It needs to be fought with more force than what it uses to attack.

Encouraging Other Women

Inspiration:
I draw inspiration from some of my favorite Bible verses: Joshua 1:9, Romans 5:3-5, 2 Timothy 4:7 and Hebrews 12:1.

Best advice you’ve ever received:
“You have to make things happen, you can’t wait for things to pop up on your doorstep”
– my dad

My mentor(s):
Jackie McClaskey, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture
Daren Williams, Sr. Executive Director of Communications – National Cattlemen’s Beef  Association

In 10 years…
My husband and I will have some cattle and farm ground; maybe even a few kids.

Career wisdom for young professional women:
Be kind – work hard – be humble – never, ever, ever give up

Let’s Hear It for the Girls: Meet Robyn Smith!

This week’s “Let’s Hear It for the Girls” post is all about one of my oldest and best friends. Robyn and I grew up in the same town, but didn’t really know each other until we started carpooling to gymnastics practice an hour away from where we lived four days a week. It’s crazy to think where our friendship started on those long car rides to where she is now as a successful physical therapist (I guess now I should start calling her Dr. Robyn!).

Meet one of my best friends, Robyn Smith, who is now a physical therapist near in Grand Haven, MI.

Meet one of my best friends, Robyn Smith, who is a physical therapist near in Grand Haven, MI.

Background

Current location:
Grand Haven, MI

Originally from:
Brown City, MI

Education (college/major):
Hope College, BA in Exercise Science
Grand Valley State University, Doctorate of Physical Therapy

Job title and company:
Physical Therapist, Mercy Health

Brief description of Mercy Health:
Mercy Health is a non-profit hospital that serves the Muskegon and lake shore community.

How did you become interested in physical therapy?
It’s hard to pin-point an occasion or moment that led me on my career path, but I give a lot of credit to my early years in gymnastics and developing an interest in human movement and helping people. I loved learning anatomy and understanding how our bodies functioned to do the incredible tasks we challenge them to do. Slowly it became clear to me a career in physical therapy would be both challenging and rewarding.

Around the Office

Office culture in a few words:
Relaxed, independent, and supportive.

A day at work looks like:
Every day I have the opportunity to work one-on-one with individuals for about 45 minutes each. My day can vary from evaluating them to determine the cause of their impairment or pain to helping them manage their diagnosis. I work with diagnoses varying from back and neck pain to knee surgeries to shoulder injuries. Plus, there’s always the daily pile of paperwork documenting everything I do.

Favorite part of your job:
I love that I get to help people live their life to the fullest and pain-free. It’s rewarding to know that I can make a difference in how someone is able to function.

Biggest challenge you face at your job:
Every day I am faced with individuals I struggle to help and many who continue to live in pain or aren’t responding well to physical therapy. It can be frustrating and disappointing at times.

Apps (or other tech) you can’t live without:
FaceTime, my alarm clock, and the Weather.com app. I also can’t leave home without my watch!

Style

Your personal style in a few words:
Classic? I love to dress up and feel comfortable and confident in what I’m wearing.

Office dress code:
Business casual is the standard at the clinic, but tennis shoes and athletic gear is considered appropriate (gotta be able to move well and demonstrate exercises).

Go-to work outfit:
Black dress pants paired with a cute and comfortable top or cardigan.

On-the-go kit:
Lip gloss, dental floss, cell phone, and wallet.

Lifestyle

Morning routine:
After crawling out of bed I hit start on my coffee pot (prepared the night before), shower, hair/make-up/get dressed (I should start laying out clothes the night before), followed by eating breakfast before grabbing lunch and heading out the door for a short commute to work.

Favorite spot for brunch:
I’ve only lived in Grand Haven for a few months now, but I have to say my favorite is a popular place called “Morningstar Cafe”.

On Saturday, you can be found:
Preferably lounging around my apartment catching up on things or heading out of town to visit family and friends for a weekend.

Favorite spot for a 10-minute break:
At work I don’t spend much time at my desk, so when I have a short break it’s a great place to sit and relax and socialize with co-workers.

Hobbies:
I’m still getting used to this question; it’s so weird to have free-time for hobbies once again! I am trying to get into running/working out more, reading, drinking wine, and cooking dinner.

When you have a day off, how do you spend it?
Days off are usually spent with friends or family.

One thing everyone should do when visiting your city:
Go to the beach and walk the pier!

Cause you’re passionate about:
Breast cancer research. It’s a cause that hits close to home.

Dream job:
I can truly say my current job is my dream job.  I love where I am at and what I do. I know there is room to grow and things will change, but for now I am right where I want to be.

Next splurge item you’re planning for:
Hmm, not exactly sure but I have a few ideas floating around. I just bought a new Jeep!

Encouraging Other Women

Inspiration:
I am inspired by those around me and those I am able to help each day. I am fortunate to be in a rewarding profession where I can help people each day. Seeing the great things some many people do and have overcome truly inspires me to be better.

Best advice you’ve ever received:
Do what makes you happy.

My mentor(s):
Professionally, my current boss Dean Millar, as well as numerous other clinical instructors and professors who have guided and molded me. Personally, I look up to many wonderful friends and family who I can always rely on for great advice and support.

Career wisdom for young professional women:
Don’t give up, even if the journey seems long – if it makes you happy, it’s worth it in the end.

Let’s Hear It for the Girls: Meet Kelly Rivard

One of my favorite article series is “Behind the Pencil (Skirt)” that Levo League does about once a week. The website – which focuses on providing useful information and resources for young professional women – uses this series to highlight 20-something women who are making waves in their respective career fields. I definitely recommend it for anyone interested in learning about the wide variety of careers that are out there and learning from your peers.

Whenever I read “Behind the Pencil (Skirt)”, though, I always wonder how my friends and network of 20-something women would answer these questions. After all, I know a great group of young professionals who are working in all sorts of fields, in the city and in the country. Wouldn’t it be neat to learn more about them and their careers? So, that’s what I’m doing.

Kelly Rivard headshot

Meet Kelly – she’s originally from rural Illinois, but is now an SEO and social media specialist for Kansas City full-service marketing agency, PlattForm.

My friend, Kelly Rivard – or, rather, “sister from another mister” as we like to refer to ourselves – kindly agreed to be my guinea pig for this project. I hope you enjoy learning more about her!

Background

Current location:
Kansas City

Originally from:
Rural northeastern Illinois

Education (college/major):
North Central College (IL), Interactive Media Studies Major

Job title and company:
SEO & Social Media Specialist, PlattForm

Brief description of PlattForm:
PlattForm is a full-service marketing agency with a specific focus on vocational and continuing education.

Where were you before PlattForm?
I was previously with AdFarm, a full-service agency that specializes in agricultural clients.

How did you become interested in SEO and social media?
As an Interactive Media major, I was always fascinated by developing digital communications trends. Even though my focus was graphics, I accidentally became involved in the “social media revolution” of agriculture, often referred to as “agvocacy.” I landed some really life-changing internships in agriculture that focused on social media, which led to my first full-time job out of college at AdFarm. As the social media coordinator there, I learned a lot of valuable skills. Eventually, my career took an unexpected turn and I got the opportunity to learn some new skills as an SEO and social media specialist for PlattForm.

Around the Office

Office culture in a few words:
Nurturing, empowering, and fun.

A day at work looks like:
Every day is different. Usually, my day is a combination of organized chaos and unexpected situations. The job is stressful, but rewarding beyond belief.

Favorite part of your job:
Working in education, I get to know that the work I do changes lives.

Biggest challenge you face at your job:
Time management. So much of my job is free-flowing, independent work with lots of surprises that sometimes it feels like fitting 10 gallons of stuff in a 5 gallon bucket — but it’s fantastic.

Apps (or other tech) you can’t live without:
My Outlook Calendar, my iPhone calendar, and my iPhone clock for timers, alarms, and reminders.

Style

Your personal style in a few words:
A hot mess? The only shoes I like to wear on a daily basis are cowgirl boots and Chuck Taylor high-tops.

Office dress code:
“Smart casual.” Jeans and a t-shirt is acceptable most days; dress for the occasion for different types of meetings.

Go-to work outfit:
Jeans, boots or Chucks, and a t-shirt or cute top depending on my mood!

On-the-go kit:
Clear or pink lip gloss, sunglasses, and a Swiss Army knife with a nail file.

Lifestyle

Morning routine:
Hit snooze as many times as I can get away with. Get up, get dressed, walk my dog, then pack a lunch and head to work. I talk to my boyfriend on the phone for a few minutes, and then listen to 96.5 The Buzz for the rest of my 30-40 minute commute to work.

Favorite spot for brunch:
My boyfriend’s apartment. We love breakfast food. His kitchen is bigger than mine so I love to go over there and cook omelets, French toast, and breakfast burritos for us!

On Saturday, you can be found:
On adventures with my dog and/or friends and/or boyfriend. Or, volunteering. I’m a chronic philanthropist.

Favorite spot for a 10-minute break:
Somewhere inside of a book. I’m currently reading Clash of Kings, the second book from the series that Game of Thrones is based on.

One thing everyone should do when visiting your city:
Kansas City is an AMAZING food city. Find a local favorite restaurant (or several) and eat yourself stupid.

Hobbies:
Reading, painting, video games (I have a pink xBox 360 controller), and volunteering with the American Cancer Society.

Cause you’re passionate about:
Mental health awareness. Statistics say that as a bipolar woman, I should not be as successful, happy, and stable as I am. Yet, here I am, kickin’ ass and takin’ names. Anyone can succeed if they have the willpower and support structure!

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian/professional artist/a flute player in a world-famous symphony.

Dream job:
Someday I’d love to work in a non-profit setting. I have a very charitable soul, and making a difference gives me a deep sense of satisfaction in my job.

Encouraging Other Women

Inspiration:
My parents (my mom, my dad until he passed when I was 12, and my step-dad) have worked hard to give me and my siblings a good foundation in our lives. My mom is especially inspiring to me. No matter how tough life gets, she smiles and does what we needs to for those she loves most.

Best advice you’ve ever received:
Have confidence. I struggle with confidence every day of my life; I KNOW I’m good at what I do, I KNOW I’m a good person, but knowing and feeling are two different things.

My mentor(s):
I have had so many! I’ve stood on the backs of giants to get where I am today, and I only hope I can pass on wisdom like I’ve received from them over the years. A few to mention: Katie Pinke, who was a supervisor for my internship with AdFarm; Libby Hall, who was my supervisor when I was Social Media Coordinator for AdFarm; Mark Gale, who gave me my first ever agency experience as a 20-year-old intern; Janice Person, who has more wisdom than any single person should be allowed to keep in their own head.

In 10 years…
I will be one of those crazy women juggling a family and a professional life.

Career wisdom for young professional women:
Don’t ever pigeon-hole yourself – don’t assume you can’t do a job because you’re a woman, you’re “too girly,” “too nice,” or “too young.” If you have the experience, drive, and passion to do it, go for it!

Stop the work and make time for the people.

As the end of our fiscal year at work winds down, we’ve been putting in a lot of hours trying to get things wrapped up for the current year and get things moving for the start of 2014. That means spending every minute possible at my desk trying to crank away at the many projects we’ve got in the hopper.

Which is why, a couple weeks ago, I was a little irritated to receive a meeting invite for a last minute all agency meeting smack in the middle of the day.

See, everyone knew what the meeting was about. We had won a new piece of business and the pitch team was going to formally announce it to the rest of the agency. In my head, I kept thinking, “Why can’t they just send an email? Why do I have to take 30 minutes when I could be working on client work, just to sit in a conference room and be told something I already know?”

The minute I went to the meeting, though, I realized just how selfish I was being.

This is just a small subset of the awesome people I get to work with every day. Sometimes I need to stop myself for a quick attitude adjustment and remember – these folks are the reason I love my job.
This is just a small subset of the awesome people I get to work with every day. When I get too self-involved in the pressures of the job, I try to take a few moments and remember to be people-focused. After all, these folks are the reason I enjoy heading to work each day.

The meeting wasn’t really about the news at all. It was about the people. It was about recognizing the team that put in long hours to get a piece of business that would benefit us all. It was about giving new staff that had worked on the pitch the chance to share their contributions. It was about getting excited as an agency that we are getting to enter a new business segment and expand our expertise.

In other words, it wasn’t about the work at all. It was about the people.

How often do we get caught up in the work and forget about the people? Whether it’s client work, conquering the never-ending to-do list or meeting a big deadline, there’s always so much to do and so little time to do it. We’ve got our nose to the grindstone so often that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we have teammates at all levels who may need help, a listening ear or a little recognition. While it’s hard to stop what you’re doing (sometimes even for 5 minutes), remember that a good job is rarely about the work. Most times it’s about the people that you get to spend your days laughing, celebrating and overcoming challenges with.

So, next time you’re buried under a pile of paperwork, dig yourself out and take some time to be people-focused instead of work-focused. Play a game of pool, stop by somebody’s desk to check in on their weekend, or take a walk for some coffee, just to get a chance to build those relationships that are so vital to career happiness. If my change in attitude after that meeting was any indication, I think you’ll be glad you did.

Choose to go left

I had my semi-annual performance review with my supervisor recently and, while it wasn’t meant to result in a pay bump or promotion, I felt like I walked away with more confidence in my abilities and what I need to improve on before moving forward (which I don’t think I could have said before the meeting). If you’re not having regular check-ins like this with your manager, I would highly encourage it.

Left turn signOne of the things that stuck with me the most from our conversation is the notion of choosing to go left when the normal reaction is to go right. Like being right-handed, doing things with the other hand is uncomfortable and unusual. However, becoming ambidextrous can be a cool skill. Similarly, for me Going Right is an instinct that I default to when things don’t go well. Going Right too often involves taking all the blame on myself, focusing on what went wrong and ultimately stewing on how the bad situation ended up so bad. I think Going Right can be a result of perfectionism combined with being pretty good at a lot of things which turns into never hearing a lot of criticism (constructive or otherwise) – not a good thing.

Going Left, however, is something my supervisor is pushing to do every time my instinct is to Go Right. Going Left means focusing on what needs to be done to make the situation right. Even though a mistake may have been made, chance are you can’t go back in time and change it (no matter how much you think wallowing in blame might accomplish that), so what are you going to do instead?

This doesn’t have to be the Going Right/Going Left combination for everyone. What is your basic instinct that you want to rebel against? Maybe Going Right for you is keeping your head down in meetings when you should Go Left and share your opinions and ideas. Maybe Going Right is falling into the trap of working with the same people over and over again instead of Going Left and working with a new team to gain fresh perspective.

Whatever it is, every once in a while, I’d encourage you to Go Left when you really want to Go Right — because all of us need to try going in a different direction sometimes.