Being A Community Professional In 2019

Also, Ian and I spent three fabulous days in San Francisco.

I was in San Francisco last week to attend the CMX Summit an annual conference for community management professionals. This event is an exciting opportunity to attend panels with leading voices in the industry, learn new strategies, listen to case studies, and optimize your craft. Simultaneously it’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with peers who face the same challenges or have overcome them and can share tips. CMX is one of the best support organizations for community managers in the industry. Many times we work solo or in small teams (3 – 4) so having a professional organization that is dedicated to our craft is incredibly helpful as a resource.  That is one of the many reasons why I am a CMX Pro member.

This year going in to the conference I wanted to look for support and information around the hurdles I am facing at my current organization. The two that I’ve identified as “strategy breaking” (meaning I’m unable to execute an effective community strategy without overcoming them) are aligning the community to business goals and winning executive support to prioritize community development efforts. While I absorbed LOTS of information around these two items, and participated in several discussions with other professionals who have felt this pain in their roles, the ultimate route others took to overcome these two things was budget. Budget being the one thing I’ve fought for this year and haven’t been able to get due to changing executive priorities and organizational consolidation. Budget would allow me to a) hire the resources I need to b) develop an effective platform on Salesforce Customer Community that aligns with business goals. 

The experience with my current organization has taught me that you can have the best community tools at your disposal but without executive alignment you will be doomed to fail the moment a resource or priority conflict arises within the organization. Community can be isolated and vulnerable to executive shifts and changes. Even with a leadership environment that insulates and protects community there is only so long you can make it before the winds of change WILL inflate the sails potentially leaving you without a dock to weather the storm in.

I’ve been promoted to a role in content strategy which allows me the opportunity to  develop new skills in the content realm which are complementary to my work in community. As much as I enjoy what I do in my current role – my heart belongs to community. I am actively looking for my next opportunity and seem to be entering an interesting phase of my career. I’ve accumulated extensive experience, I’ve been honored to work with amazing companies, and the opportunities I’ve had I am humbled and incredibly grateful for.

As a candidate you feel like this is all building a case for what you can bring to an organization who has a gap they would like to fill with someone who has a community background. However, the feedback I’ve received after being a finalist for several positions is that I am “too senior” for the role. This may be a combination of the experience on my resume and that I don’t hide the fact I am looking to move to an organization who a) wants someone to lead an award winning community program and b) wants someone who has the desire to move up the leadership ladder. 

The concern that stems from this discovery during my search for a new opportunity is that companies are relying on junior candidates to support their community efforts. This isn’t a negative when that person is working on day to day administration or is super self motivated to seek out support and answers. However, when you consider the business impacts that are involved – platform & project management, stakeholder expectation management, executive influence, budget, ALL the strategic work that community entails – there is concern that companies still in 2019 don’t quite understand the importance … and VALUE… of senior leaders for their community efforts.

Yes, we as community professionals are making inroads in our field. There is a burgeoning awareness of what we do. However this field is still nascent and there continues to be a need for education to ensure that organizations understand the value of our talent. This can be emotionally exhausting especially when it’s happening during a job search but it’s important work that has to be done to help set the stage for those who come into this field after us.

If you’re interested in learning more about why this is a concern please take the time to read the 2019 State of Community report. The SOCM report is compiled by dedicated research team at The Community Roundtable.

On the topic of doing what you love

I’ve been exploring the job market recently for senior positions available in the community space. I love my job, however, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for exciting opportunities. There are quite a few in the community space available which is super exciting. Not just for me but for the industry as a whole and those who choose to specialize in community work as a profession.

I’ve had the pleasure to have a few conversations with brands I personally admire, some I’ve grown up with. A couple of times those conversations have turned into fulfilling years of my life working alongside them. I absolutely appreciate the years of professional development it’s taken to get the point I could have those conversations and opportunities.

There is one insight that changed the entire trajectory of my career, opening the door to those opportunities.

Whatever it is you love, or is special to you, make it a core to who you are, fully embrace it. If it’s something you can incorporate into your profession, focus on it and build strengths around it.

Me

Hey, I get it. I remember the days of receiving this advice and thinking how UNHELPFUL it was because how tf do I know what I want to do? It’s okay, when someone shares this tidbit with you we’re not asking you to plan out the next 10 years of your career. Knowing you make awesome drinks all of your friends feel special when you have a party and you love discovering new mixology recipes, it’s a part of your identity! Embracing your inner mixologist can provide you with the framework for development areas opportunities you can take to hone your skills. Or if it’s not something you want to make a profession out of then it can just be a great party favor you bust out every now and then.

Welcome back, Monday!

I took a break from #Blaugust over the weekend from Friday – Sunday. After flying out to SoCal to visit a potential new work opportunity I just needed the downtime to recoup energy and motivation. Also, seeing it’s also “Get to know you” week what better way to kick off my return to blogging with responses to Naithan’s ‘Real Neat Blog Award‘ nomination!

What hobbies or interests do you have that you might not regularly include on your blog? 

I put many of my hobbies on pause for the last 2 years while I’ve focused on pursuing my career and education. However, I am an avid collector of Asian Ball Jointed Dolls (primarily Fairyland). I also an avid con-goer, traveling for nerd conventions across the country.

Are you learning any skills at the moment? If not, what would you like to learn?

Right now I am working on a business degree online at Community College of Denver! I am also honing skills in content strategy with a laser focus on consumers and SEO. Soon, I’ll also be working on a Salesforce certification. I think my plate is quite full on that front for the remainder of the year.

If you were invited on a one-way trip to Mars to establish a new colony, would you go?

Absolutely! I am a huge fan of space and space colonization. While I am sure it would be a very difficult endeavor the impact it would have on our ability relieve the Earth of our burden would be an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

What is the one thing that you most want readers to come away from your blog with? A feeling, thought, or understanding.

This is a tough one because, for the most part, my blog is pretty personal. I think if there were something I would readers to come away with is that this is a safe place to talk about what’s important to them and know that they’re not alone. I know what struggling with adversity and mental illness is like. I work everyday to overcome anxiety and depression while creating the best work I can. You can do it, I believe in you and I’m here for you if you need to talk.

What excites you most about having a blog?

The ability to develop my writing and to have a place where, when I am ready, I can share my opinion on the things that are important to me. I don’t write about alot of the things I feel strongly about because the simple emotional energy it takes to create those pieces is better invested in work that matters. I would like to learn though this blog that my opinion DOES matter and I can write it without it taking up precious energy simply by becoming more comfortable with expressing myself through this medium.

If you could make one thing from a book, TV show or movie real, and in your possession, what would it be?

The watch Cooper gives to Murphy before he leaves on the mission to go through the wormhole in Interstellar.

They say everyone has at least one book in them — if you were to write a book, what would it be about?

I have the first paragraph for a book I’m really interested in writing saved in my google docs for like 6 years. It would be about a robotics engineer on a space station that ends up in an interstellar escapade to save the universe.

On not belonging

San Diego Zoo

Events happen in our childhood – these events, along with genetics, can shape who we might become as adults. There is always latitude for us to develop in different ways, those events or experiences don’t define us. Some of the experiences I had growing up left deep scars on my psyche. The sum of which leave me occasionally (about once a month) feeling a deep sense of discomfort with who I am. This feeling is very difficult to explain, the best I can do to describe is much like impostor syndrome. That feeling that you just don’t belong to/in the circumstances around you. Maybe disassociation?

Even with the knowledge and confidence in the moment that this is MY life – not allowing this feeling (in the moment, when it happens) to have ownership or give it any legitimacy – still it takes some time, usually hours, to work through reaffirmations that I am who I am. I am proud of who I am. I’ve worked hard to become the person I am with the responsibilities I have. When I have this feeling come on I share it with Ian. He’s very understanding and helpful when I’m processing through the emotions.

This mood tends to happen around major events or decisions in my life. For example, before we flew out to start our vacation in Hawaii earlier this year. Tomorrow I depart to Southern California for a final round of interviews. It’s an opportunity I am very excited to learn more about and am honored to be a candidate for. If I were selected it would mean major upheaval, not in a chaotic negative manner, in that we would need to relocate and leave the beautiful home we just built. We are not adverse to this in fact we’re excited about the potential. With this turbulence though it leaves the smallest crack for those scars to get through – and that’s all it needs.

It will be okay, tomorrow will come and I will have the opportunity to shine. Scars don’t define you.

It’s official!

A picture of the Auraria campus in Denver, CO
Auraria Campus – 08/01/2019

I never would have thought I would be starting college from scratch in my late 30’s. I am officially enrolled at Community College of Denver as a AA Business major! This program guarantees admission at Colorado University as a part of the “admissions promise” program that Colorado offers. I start classes at the Community College of Denver and then, after I receive my AA, the program 100% transfers to a 4 year program with CU Denver.

Early in life I had to put supporting myself first and then quickly fell in love with entrepreneurship. As my career matured and I fell more and more in love with community as a profession when I began looking for senior positions it quickly became clear I needed to make a larger overall commitment to my career and enter a degree program.

Today I went down to the Auraria campus to speak with my academic advisor and ensure that the classes I registered for were correct. I also was able to get my student ID!

Guys, it’s official! I’M A COLLEGE STUDENT!

A home in Denver Pt 1

My avatar in Second Life

Ian and I bought our first house just a few months after getting married in 2006. The house was beautiful – and huge. Just the two of us in a 2100 sq ft house. It was new construction so there wasn’t a lot of upkeep and I loved working on improving the lawn + gardening. We closed in January of 2006 and got caught up in the housing bubble that happened 2006 – 2007. Seven years later, when we were ready to sell, the market still hadn’t recovered in the rural area we were in.

We were able to eventually sell the house but at a loss which left us with a bitter taste in our mouth in regards to home ownership.

We moved to Denver in 2012 – one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. After renting for about 5 yrs I started to get the itch for a place to call “home”. All of our residences since moving to Colorado have been rentals – I never felt a connection with any of them. The decision mostly evolved around whatever was the most affordable place to live at the time. We were bounced out of two properties in two years because the owners wanted to capitalize on the significant inflation of the Denver market. I don’t blame them, it just sucked to have to move so often.

Once I started to get the house itch I took a serious look at our credit. It wasn’t great. I knew it would take 12 – 18 months to work on the areas we needed to improve in order to get a better rate on a mortgage. I also started pursuing better jobs because buying a home in Denver is nothing at all like the market in Texas. You simply can’t get as much here as you can for your dollar so that meant we would have to get serious about saving. Generally, the fastest way to increase your income is to move positions and possibly organizations.

There were lots of ups and downs, and of course, the IRS cropped up every few months with something or another to take a bite out of the wallet. I landed my dream job and was able to speed up the savings process. In late 2017 I started to really look at the housing that was available in Denver and surrounding areas. We prepped ourselves to consider the worst case scenario for this market which was a condo with no garage or covered parking. I started looking into the other possibilities, primarily town homes and expanded my search area to include everything from Castle Rock to Longmont.

I searched for months… the outlook was grim. We have four dogs and three cars, so a yard or access to one was non-negotiable. Also of importance was a garage or at least covered parking for our vehicles. As you can imagine there aren’t many condos that offer both of these things which meant the most affordable housing option wasn’t going really an option at all. Next, I began looking into town homes which turned up results that were much more palatable including one community that had new construction town homes with a very affordable (for Denver) 2 bedroom floor plan.

It was during the town home research I found out about paired homes. This wasn’t a common style of housing in Texas so I hadn’t ever heard of it. The basic description would be a duplex but paired houses are a bit different from duplexes in the way they’re constructed to offer more security and privacy for the homeowners. We looked at quite a few of these and came close to making a decision but in the end, the timing wasn’t right and we decided to put the research into buying a home on hold for another year.

Fast forward to March 2018 – the itch was back and more intense than ever. We had been saving and getting our credit in order and felt ready to make a decision. We revisited the 2 bedroom town home we had seen before, the builder didn’t have one available so we looked into their other floor plans and housing.

There’s much more to our journey to home ownership. Part 2 we’ll explore the decision we made and the process of building our new home.

Apologies to those who were looking forward to more Destiny Grimoire reading today. Our power was out for 4 hours this evening and I simply didn’t have a chance to record before this entry needed to be published.

It’s about the challenge

Serialized content is difficult for me. Most likely because I don’t know what I will be inspired by on any given day and it’s very difficult for me to write about any topic if I’m not feeling it in the moment. 

In the spirit of planning week I really want to attempt to plot out a trajectory for the month that makes sense. In part to push myself to think about topics outside of “being in the moment” so that there is an actual sense of progression through #Blaugust2019 – and hopefully development for my writing. If I can’t learn to push through the “blocked” mental state I feel when attempting to write about something I’m not “in the moment” with then how am I ever to finish a paper, or a book?

One idea, the short readings from the Destiny Grimoire, has been implemented and I am dedicated to finding time to record it on a daily basis. Given that this week is devoted to the planning aspect of Blaugust let’s keep true to the spirit of this week and outline how I see this month going. 

Peeping the calendar for inspiration I realize that entire weeks are dedicated to topics I would typically smush into one day each. Understanding I would typically rush through sections that have entire weeks dedicated to them means I need to make sure my workflow reinforces a methodical approach to my topics. I want to ensure my mindset is on the marathon, not the sprint. I also understand that despite my best intentions my brain is wired this way, and it will be difficult for me to focus on planning for entire week.

With pacing in mind I’ve created a google calendar with my topics for the upcoming month so that I have better pacing and focus. Adulting can be tough, so I need to avoid procrastinating until after work to write. Let’s face it, sometimes I’m not in the best head space when I get home from an emotionally exhausting day at work. When I get home finding time to write a daily blog and record the daily audio from the Grimoire simply can’t compete with preparing dinner, spending time with Ian, gaming, etc.

Planning ahead and using the Google calendar (aha, planning) combined with clipping points of interest and roughing out a draft in evernote during the day will ensure I have prepared and don’t need to commit hours to writing one entry.

I’ve never worked in a kitchen environment before, but I watch ALOT of Gordon Ramsey programming so I’ll think of it like prep before dinner service! 

Me

Thanks for coming on this journey with me.

And, of course, Day 2 of Dark Mirror for your enjoyment.

Focusing on ONE platform from now on

I’ve made the same mistake of separating my gaming life from my life in general online countless times. There’s no good reason for this and I always end up realizing what a mistake it is due to how core gaming is to who I am as a person. I mention this because I stopped updating here to write gaming oriented thoughts somewhere else. The problem with this is that there is always the struggle need to represent myself fully somewhere and stop trying to separate these parts of myself. 

I went ahead and brought over the blog posts I made on the gaming blog. I’ll be consolidating all of my writing here from now on.

So, a quick catch up on what’s happened over the last couple of years in my personal life. Remember that leap I talked about taking in previous blogs? Yeah, well it did end disastrously.

More on that soon… !