New things

Life is interesting now. I have many thoughts but no theme to wrap them up, so I’m going to slide them into this blog post, like pouring pebbles into a bucket. Feel free to look away.

Learning

I’m in my 12th month at Brandwatch, and I feel that I now fully understand the company, the market, the people, the dynamics. Obviously it hasn’t been linear – probably a nice s-curve – but it’s interesting to me how long it took. 12 months to nail it. As an aside, the company has doubled in staff size in that time.

(Knowing all of that how the company works stuff isn’t necessarily helpful. I feel the value of fresh eyes, when new people join us. As much as I’ve understood the status quo, I am now part of it too. Gotta watch that.)

I have loved taking services-side experiences and skills and using them inside an organisation. Especially having worked with so many different types of personality and spent time learning about listening / motivations / organisational culture etc. So for me the transition from external (consulting/agency) to internal (client-side) has been very rewarding. Seeing things through. Being at the heart of it. I love it. I don’t think I will want to go back to services, but never say never.

The only two things I miss from the type of work you do services-side are:

  • Winning deals – I am one step removed from our sales teams and their selling to clients, so that incredible adrenaline that I used to feed off has gone. There are lots of warm, fuzzy moments when we win, or launch great stuff, or see particularly sweet inbound enquiries from great organisations, but it’s less raw, less heart-racing. I miss that.
  • Space to be creative – I only noticed this recently, in two more creative, spacious conversations with team mates. And I realised how lacking we’ve been in our NYC office in places to draw (white walls, flip charts) and how rarely I’ve been in that mode. We can be very head down – there is so much to do. I can do more of this and plan to, now that I’ve noticed it, but also learned the business.

America

Still loving living and being in New York. We had a great summer (bloody hot, but unseasonably mild apparently – I shudder at the thoughts of ‘normal’).

My subway card swipe (no Oyster card here) still needs work. Really pisses me off. How can I consider myself settled before I can confidently swipe through with 99.9999% success?

Favourite moments are still where the melting pot blends ingredients that were just not available back in Brighton & Hove. Like taking the kids to the playground, and there being 5 or 6 families cooking BBQs for their kids parties, Puerto Rican music blaring out of proper sound systems, while I push the kids on the swings in the sunshine. Or seeing snakes and eagles on our summer holiday. The variety, the difference.

Some of my language has changed. I say apartment instead of flat, even to Brits. Elevator. Resumé. Soccer (I know). But not all. I say Surname. And said ‘trainers’ the other day – I’m never saying sneakers. It’s a non-negotiable. Mrs and kids have gone further: they say chips instead of crisps (this upsets me greatly). Accent-wise, I think I’m still largely unchanged. Some gentle rounding of Ts, maybe. Our eldest said ‘peanut budder’ the other day. Our youngest deliberately pronounces ‘wadder’ to make himself understood at school. Sweet.

Challenges

Perception – this is a bit abstract now, but I am becoming more and more fascinated by perception. It seems to be a central opportunity and challenge for us at Brandwatch, and principally for me given my role. And for anyone who has something they want to share with others. I can’t really explain all of it, but it’s about I suppose it gets called and relates to (but isn’t entirely about) Positioning, a lot. It’s a magical area. How people feel about a product, a company, a sector. I am looking forward to learning and playing in this area.

Face time – I spend the first 2/3rds of every day in Hangouts and on Skype calls, some one to one, many with multiple attendees. It is often a frustrating experience. This area is still so flawed, technologically, for consumers. What’s great is that I have found that strong relationships can continue to thrive through these channels, but really working through challenges when the relationships aren’t there yet or are suffering is very difficult. It’s also hard to contribute to important, dynamic conversations when the majority of a group are together in a physical space and one finds oneself the voice from the screen. A challenge. (And the reason that business travel continues, despite tech).

Time for writing – I write best in the morning. Morning is now when I catch up on 5 hours of the UK’s productivity (and to a lesser extent, 6 hours of Germany’s) and start jumping on video calls with people. I need to find a way to hack this. I enjoy writing and I know it is a great investment.

And those are the thoughts I’ve been carrying around with me.

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