I’ve spent nearly my entire professional life working at CBSSports.com. Working for one of the major four broadcasting companies was an amazing experience with a lot of perks. I entered CBS as a page and worked my way to Managing Producer at CBSSports.com in a little more than six years. Working with a team of producers, editors and technical staff, we covered Super Bowls, NCAA Tournaments and Final Fours, The Masters, SEC football and much more, often going on the road to cover major sporting events, booking satellite space and fiber. I was the lead liaison between the broadcast side and the web.
After nearly 11 years with the CBS Corporation I left my comfort zone to take on new challenges, expand my skill set and hopefully help build something awesome from the ground up. I now find myself in the unfamiliar world of a startup where learning curves are often steep. I no longer book studios, coordinate satellite feeds and game streams. Instead, I coordinate and manage a variety projects from site and landing page builds to marketing automation to lead generating campaigns. With that being said here are five of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my time here.
1. Be prepared to produce deliverables Day 1
Unlike corporate environments, startups don’t really have the luxury of giving new hires a ramp up period. More often than not, your position was created out of sheer necessity and where there was no one previously in that role. This was true in my case as the project manager at iPullRank. Because of this, your help and insights are needed on Day 1. Whether it’s creating a project plan or dealing with existing fires, you have to be ready to jump into the deep end and start swimming.
2. Focus on resolving issues of greatest consequence
I was brought in out of a necessity to help organize and create processes. This can be overwhelming when you’re taking in the landscape of issues you need to address. It’s not gonna get done all at once, so I focused on areas with the greatest impact that can filter down to help resolve other issues. By doing this, I was able to start to resolve some of the issues we were facing, like centralized file storage and organization (we use DropBox), Project Management software (my Managing Director and I implemented Teamwork as we like all the API integrations), creating a communication protocol making email the sole source for relaying client asks to production staff as well as a file naming convention.
I know everyone wants to make an immediate impact at a new company, but trying to address too many issues at once will leave you overwhelmed and force your coworkers to deal with many issues far longer than necessary.
3. Implementation of systems, software and process can/will happen in days, not months
Working at CBS for 11 years, I became accustomed to working with some of the best technology in the business, but with that luxury often came the arduous task of implementing the new and phasing out the old. Because of the infrastructure and the interconnectivity of the industry you can’t just switch software or change processes or systems, it takes months to implement properly.
Since Startups, by nature, are in their infancy and don’t have the bureaucratic roadblocks or infrastructure in place, systems, software and processes can be implemented and adjusted within days, not months. I now speak to the Founder/Managing Director on a daily basis (at least when he’s not globetrotting speaking at SEO and marketing conferences.) This direct pipeline to the final decision maker has allowed for rapid change when it’s needed, and has helped us adapt and stay ahead of the curve in this ever-evolving marketing landscape.
A word of advice though, when you are going to the decision maker with an issue, be sure to have potential solutions and a detailed plan of action ready because, if your proposal is approved, implementation should be immediately set into motion.
4. Independent learning is no longer optional, it’s mandatory
Doing digital video production for 10 years and dealing with a completely different set of deliverables, I’ve found myself having to do a lot of independent learning to understand the details of all deliverables and technologies that we utilize in this business. Independent learning is always something that is encouraged across all industries, but at startups, it’s not just encouraged it’s mandatory.
At iPullRank we have a Slack channel entitled Must Reads entirely devoted to educational articles, blogs and eBooks. Some of the most helpful eBooks and articles for me were the Moz Beginners Guide to SEO and Quicksprout’s Beginners Guide to Digital Marketing. I’m currently reading Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams and taking a seven-day email course on keyword research entitled Master Keyword Research in 7 Days. The first few weeks here when I was in meetings, and my coworkers started in with the technical jargon, I would get lost in a marketing alphabet soup of sorts. Now, I’ve familiarized myself with the tools and terms of the industry. I’m sort of learning SEO hooked on phonics style similar to the way Bert Kreischer learned Russian, only I’m not robbing a train. (Skip to 6:28)
5. Be ready to be appreciated
Yeah it’s kind of cliché and cheesy as sh*t, but in my case it rings true. I’m not saying I wasn’t appreciated in my previous corporate environment, because I was, and I feel lucky to have been surrounded by such a great staff. But coming to IPR, and seeing the immediate impact, and feeling that people truly appreciated my efforts was and is extremely gratifying. This impact was part of the draw for me to go to a startup. Within my first few weeks here at iPullRank a coworker went as far as to shout me out in an article he wrote. Appreciation is a two-way street and I’m truly grateful to have the best freakin’ marketing Sherpas guiding me on this journey. They are thought leaders and rock stars.
After four months with IPR and witnessing the company experience double-digit percentage growth in revenue and staffing within that time, it’s shaping up to be one hell of a year. As we grow, I will be looking to take the data I’ve collected thus far in Teamwork, and use it to create better processes for managers to accurately gauge and predict their team’s bandwidth for weeks if not months. We will also be looking to create a more robust onboarding process with an extremely detailed employee handbook, with step-by-step breakdowns of all deliverables. Personally, I will continue to expand my marketing, SEO and project management skills with both on the job and independent learning (often facilitated by my coworkers). I’m excited and grateful to be a part of iPullRank as it continues to grow and evolve and to quote Drake and Future “What a time to be alive.”