Ops Cast

The Importance of Good Planning on Productivity and Mental Health with Dani Worthman

February 26, 2024 Michael Hartmann, Mike Rizzo, Naomi Liu and Dani Worthman Season 1 Episode 106
Ops Cast
The Importance of Good Planning on Productivity and Mental Health with Dani Worthman
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this podcast episode, we delve into the complex world of marketing operations with the expertise of Dani Worthman, Director of Marketing Operations at Headspace. Dani shares her professional journey, which intersects with the critical importance of mental health within the demanding landscape of marketing operations. Her journey, from a background in neuroscience to leading a marketing agency and eventually embracing a strategic role in a corporate environment, provides a unique perspective on balancing mental well-being with professional demands.

We explore the concept of work-life balance as a dynamic pursuit rather than a fixed state, drawing on experiences from our own Mike's foray into freelancing. Dani offers invaluable insights into leading a team while prioritizing mental health, emphasizing the role of trust in preventing burnout. The discussion acknowledges that achieving balance requires ongoing adjustment and a strategic approach to the challenges of marketing operations.

The episode also addresses practical aspects of marketing operations management, from adopting agile methodologies to integrating IT-inspired documentation practices. These strategies aim to enhance communication and organizational structure, thereby reducing the stress associated with roles in marketing operations. We discuss the importance of allocating time for strategic planning and agile response to unforeseen challenges, offering listeners actionable advice for optimizing their marketing operations team's efficiency.

Join us for a thought-provoking conversation that serves as a guide for professionals seeking to improve their marketing operations while maintaining a focus on mental health and well-being.

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Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to another episode of Opscast brought to you by marketingopscom, powered by the MOPROs. I'm your host, michael Hartman, joined today by both co-host Naomi Lu and Mike Rizzo.

Speaker 2:

the whole gang share, Hi everyone.

Speaker 3:

Naomi's rocking, that big tech energy.

Speaker 1:

I know I have to.

Speaker 3:

I love it.

Speaker 1:

There we go. We were talking about that before you got on, so, yeah, good times. Mopsplooza, seems like it was just a little while ago, but you're already working on 2024, right?

Speaker 3:

It's here, it's coming, it's coming fast.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, today we're recording on the day when you published your article about how you pulled it off right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I had so many people asking for that, so we'll have to probably do an episode that maybe brings in some other event planners at some point to talk about this oooos of event planning.

Speaker 1:

That would be fun. I think I could help bring in some people for that, so let's do it. Yeah, well, good, well, we're going to get started here. We've got a great guest to join us today and we're going to get into a topic. This is at least the second time maybe more where we started touching on the topic of mental health and especially how it plays into the role for marketingops professionals. So joining us today for that conversation is Danny Worthman, who is currently director of marketing operations at Headspace. Danny is a marketing leader with 10 plus years of experience across operations, digital and growth marketing. She also at one point started a marketing and ops agency, and her current employer, headspace, is focused on mental health. So it's a good combination here. So, danny, thank you for joining us today.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I'm very excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1:

Good, well, let's get into this a little bit, but this is a really important topic. I think I'm glad that we're able to talk about it now. When I was younger probably your age or so this was sort of a taboo topic among people, and so I'm glad we're going to be able to have a discussion about it and get some practical advice and ideas on how to help it, especially for leaders. I think we're going to get into that more so than individuals. But before we get into that, I would love to hear your career journey. I highlighted a few things, but how you ended up in marketing operations from the start of where you started your career and I like to add in this too right, if there are any particular moments in your career where I could decision you know, path A or path B, or people who helped influence you getting to where you are, I'd love to hear about that too.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely. Yeah, thanks again for having me. So I started as a marketer in college In terms of someone who influenced my entire life. I originally wanted to study neuroscience and move more into psychology. I've always been interested in mental health and what makes people function and tick. But I had a professor in college who was like you would be terrible at that, do not go get a degree in biology, you are.

Speaker 3:

Wow, such foresight from the professor.

Speaker 2:

She was so well Wow Okay.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, she was just like you're creative, you should do something creative and marketing would be a good career. Try that. And I was like, okay, I don't really know, when you're in early in college let's do it. But I got an internship at a company called CoreSight in demand generation and ended up staying. I really did love it. She was correct, I suppose I never tried to be a neuroscientist, so I won't really know if I would have been bad at it, but I certainly love this. And so in that role I stayed kind of moved from demand generation a little bit into marketing ops at that time I joke, I don't know if I was falling in love with the person or the profession. I met my husband who was their head of marketing operations there, and I was shadowing him basically to learn what he did.

Speaker 1:

We fell in love. That's one way of saying it right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that might be the first time that I've ever heard that somebody was like the marketing ops love story. Yeah, I think you fell in love with marketing ops.

Speaker 4:

I did I literally did.

Speaker 3:

The embodiment of it anyway, the long guys over deliverability reports.

Speaker 4:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 3:

Look at that. Thank you L? Sorry, we're going to spiral here.

Speaker 1:

It's funny, it's also late, it's also the day after Valentine's, too, when we recorded this. So like, how appropriate.

Speaker 4:

Oh man, this is I know. We should have invited my husband and we could have had a sappy mobs podcast.

Speaker 1:

Next time, next time, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4:

So he I mean that's what he still does. He's been doing that for a long time. We quit our jobs after we fell in love, decided to start a marketing agency. That's kind of where that came from. We at the time had the young, beautiful, naive perception that we could do it better than all the other agencies we'd worked with and we'd charge less and make more and help small businesses. And you know like it was. We did a lot of those things, but it turned out to be truly challenging to run a service-based business. However, we did move to Europe and traveled for a year and a half, did the digital nomad thing together and worked weird US hours and traveled Europe during the day. So it was lovely. We did not get divorced even though we ran a business together so that's a success in and of itself and ultimately ended up saying, okay, that was harder than we thought it would be and we would rather just be marketers again and really focus in on one company's needs and doing a really good job for them instead of like 10 at a time and just being stretched extremely thin. So ended up getting jobs back on kind of the corporate side of things and I think, as a lot of people did. Mid pandemic I really wanted to work somewhere that I believed in. I kind of had that soul searching moment and either was going to find a job in the arts, which wasn't going to happen during the pandemic, or in mental health, because I've always been just an advocate and have needed the support myself throughout my life and was lucky to find a position running demand gen and marketing ops at Ginger, which was an on demand mental health care company that merged with Headspace in 2021. So that was a big year. I had my son that year and while I was on maternity leave I basically my job shifted from being demand gen to just overseeing marketing operations and since then it's been busy. We've gone through HubSpot merger, almost moved to Marketo, then didn't a Salesforce migration. It's been wild, you know. So it's great, yeah, it's a lot. So yeah, that's it basically, and here I am. Here I am now.

Speaker 3:

I know we've got plenty of questions and maybe this will be a nice segue after we get through my question here. But I'm curious do you feel your journey having sort of started a business and done all of those things Does that give you? Have you ever paused to reflect on the perspective that it gives you for your business leaders and what they're doing, now that you have a better understanding of it, or as it's just sort of like floating in the back of your mind now? Yeah, just curious if that's changed your perspective as now, like a FTE back in role right, you've been in this role for a while, but does that change. Do you remember the difference between not having had that experience and now having it?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, absolutely, it's a great question. I think I've reflected a lot on how running the agency has made me the process oriented person that I've become, and like why I think I've fallen more and more in love with with operations over time. But I think that you're you're right. I mean, of course, I also can put myself in those shoes to an extent. We had a three person company, you know. We never, never went into any debt, decided not to leverage it, wanted to, you know, didn't love it enough to kind of put that stuff on the line. So to the extent that I can relate, I get how, especially over the past couple of years, in the tough economic environment we're in, like the decisions that leaders have to make. I do get it. It is business and I think it gives me what probably at times comes off as maybe a little bit of a cold reaction to some of these organizational changes and tough decisions. But in reality I'm like, yeah, it's a survival tactic. Like you, protect the company at all costs. That is the goal is to be sure that this thing you created, that is delivering the most value out in the world, lives on and even though there are negative impacts to human beings like throughout that time, especially after a pandemic, and everything we've all been through in the past few years. I do, I get it and I cannot take it personally. Yeah, yeah yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Appreciate it. Thanks. So, just as a total aside, right, I'm now like I'm more convinced, even now, that everybody's story is unique and how they get to marketing ops. I will say this is a first. I think this is a first, so I love it and I love that you got, you know, you kind of been able to combine your you know, early passion for wellness or neuroscience with what you're doing professionally. So you know, one of the things I think I struggle with the term work life balance, because I just I think that's there's a false narrative there that there is always going to be a constant balance between the two of some sort. And I just believe that there's there's sort of a flow, right, sometimes one takes more precedence than the other and over time you have to figure out which one is, like, how that works for you. That that being said, I mean you've had to at least two very different situations, right. One, starting and running an agency which and you were doing it, you even said right in Europe been working for US companies and you're in on staff. And how, like, how have you seen the difference in being able to manage that work-life flow or balance, whichever you choose the term you want to use.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, absolutely. I like the term balance. I think I totally agree with what you're saying in terms of there's not some line that you're doing well if you cross it. You're doing well until you cross it and then you aren't. The way I think of it and it's something that my mom said to me a long time ago, like a really long time ago, but she was right is that the greater balance accounts for periods of imbalance. It's just part of it and, like in any life, in any career, of course there will be times that you are not in a state of balance in one direction or another, but it's part of the big picture of balance for you in that area. So when I say balance, I know it's not perfect, it's messy for sure.

Speaker 1:

I mean, I think that's a good nuance and that it's over a longer period of time. Right, it's not in a moment.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yeah, definitely, especially in jobs like these, where we are supporting critical pieces of businesses, like sometimes you have to jump in and you didn't expect to and that's part of it. But yeah, so I think for me the work-life balance focus did probably come out of running the agency and just having absolutely no semblance of balance at all In that scenario. It was weird hours we weren't really like sleeping at the right times, but also we were solely responsible for all of that work and the budgets and paying ourselves versus hiring other people. And, of course, early on in a business you make the choice to just do it yourself because we knew how to do all of that stuff. And the thing that I think is the hardest is running an agency or being a freelancer or a consultant. You kind of have to earn trust. It's not just there and that was really challenging for me to navigate running an agency where I am definitely someone who will prove myself and put in the work for a period of imbalance, kick butt for a while and then feel like, hey, everyone trusts me, they know that I understand what I'm doing and that I know how to prioritize this well and I won't let any important balls drop. Then you can find some balance over time and build structure on a team. But when we were coming into new businesses constantly, that didn't exist. It was always the prove yourself period of time, and so I think that really burned me out very, very quickly and, having experienced that now being on the other side of things and having a team, it's really important to me that they never feel that way and that I don't burn people out like that and the trust is established quickly and honored. So, yeah, I think my approach to work-life balance is extreme because of the time I spent at the agency not having any.

Speaker 1:

So, mike, you were nodding your head. I know you do a lot of freelance work. Does that ring true to you too?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I was digesting everything you were saying, danny, and I think for most of my career I've been an FTE, up until this past year, where I was sort of put into the throes of I got to pay the bills. So I'm going to do consulting work and I have to say yeah that's pretty true. For the most part you're trying to earn that trust because, especially if you have a fairly small project and then you finish it and they don't really need anything else, then you're on to the next. But I was also digesting what you're saying in terms of employment too, and I guess, like I was thinking, as an employee, I really do feel in most organizations, although I've taken on some senior roles before where I got nitpicked and questioned to the nth degree by the CEO because they didn't understand marketing yet, which is fine, I was sort of hired for that job.

Speaker 1:

But for the most part.

Speaker 3:

I feel like I have the trust you went through. I think that's what the interview process is for. You go through that and then you get hired and they're like, yeah, you're the person for the job. And so you don't really feel like you're. I mean, yeah, you have your plan right 30, 60, 90. But I guess as an employee you don't really feel that fight quite as much.

Speaker 4:

Right.

Speaker 3:

I mean, anyway, I was just like I don't know. Like I think you still have to earn trust as an employee. Sure you do, because it is a little bit different, right? And then going back to this idea of the balance work-life balance piece, I think I really liked what you guys were all talking about, just in terms of like hey, there are going to be times where things just skew one direction, like really, really heavily. Right, and I think you can't experience that in without like you have to go through the journey, right. Like, especially in marketing ops, right, I don't know about you, danny, but like you just said a moment ago, right, like, hey, there's going to be moments where you have to jump in right and just like be busy and you might learn that this is not the right career for you, because that sometimes can suck really bad.

Speaker 1:

Usually it's from some sort of moops too. Yes, usually yeah.

Speaker 3:

You have one of those earlier today.

Speaker 1:

Or, as Naomi likes to talk about, right the freak out in the middle of the night. You wake up like did I get the right email to go?

Speaker 2:

No, yeah, I feel like there is no work-life balance in two situations when you're in marketing ops. One, if you are just starting your career, because you have those anxiety inducing moments because of the what am I doing? Am I doing this correctly? Did I just accidentally send out this email to the entire database? Right? And that's not a real work-life balance because the real estate in your brain is consumed so much with just anxiety and worry and stress. And I think anybody who's worked in ops especially email marketing or even anything where leads are supposed to be passing through to sales the worst thing you can get is an email that says, hey, the Flint didn't work, or why didn't this go out, or why aren't I getting leads, or why am I leads going to this person? It just it takes up so much real estate in your brain that even if there is a lull in campaign activity, it doesn't lull, kind of the buzz in your head, right, I think the other time work-life balance is almost impossible, as if you are the only person who's pressing the go button. So how many times early on in my career have I had to say here's my holiday calendar, schedule your stuff in advance for me so I can queue it up, and then it's like, oh no, you're leaving tomorrow, but then what about this? Right? So those are two situations. I feel like you can not get away from that, and then you just feel this crushing weight. Oh pressure.

Speaker 1:

Well, I haven't thought about that kind of situation in a long time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, that was the first of many calls.

Speaker 3:

We need to like put bullets and asterisks and titles on this episode that say only listen to, if you already love marketing ops. Oh, no, no, no no no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no no.

Speaker 1:

Trigger warning. Trigger warning right.

Speaker 2:

Like you weren't sweating at all. If you're thinking about a career in marketing, ops.

Speaker 3:

Don't listen to this episode. Listen to the other ones first and come back and you've done the things.

Speaker 1:

All right. So Naomi kind of hinted, I think, at one of the things that you and I talked about is maybe one way to try to resolve that, which is trying to do better job of planning. And yeah, I don't remember all the details of what we talked about, but could you kind of talk about why you that was one of the early things you brought up as a tool for helping people manage some of this? A, why do you think it's so important? And then B, are there different types of planning that you should be going through, and does it matter if it's your individual contributor or leader? throwing your box of stuff here.

Speaker 4:

Oh, there's so many. We could talk about that forever, I feel like. And, naomi, your points were excellent. I couldn't agree more, and I also at times wonder if the people that are attracted to this kind of work are just a little anxious, a little type A kind of intense warriors, detail oriented, extremely dedicated. You know there's this, I guess.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think some of us like to be seen as heroes too, right? So, solving those last minute challenges, whether it's poor planning or whatever, there's something satisfying about that.

Speaker 3:

when you get the Atta Boy, that's true, even if that were described self described and by described by others as somebody that had a bit of a hero complex.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that's true, that is really satisfying.

Speaker 3:

So it's interesting you said that because I actually haven't even thought of that term in 20 years probably.

Speaker 4:

Yeah and it's hard.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, as long as I'm listening, I'm older than 20.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 4:

Barely.

Speaker 1:

Me too Barely.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, well, it's interesting because I I guess maybe I've been lucky too with the people that I've worked with and who've worked for me, but so far I've had to coach them not to be that hero and not to lean in so far on those anxieties. I think part of it makes you excellent at your job, because if you do wake up in the middle of the night and it occurred to you, then you can stop it and save it. I'm sure we've also all been the person who didn't and just had it happen Then. Yeah, like you said, the moops, it's just part of the job. But for me I relate to that and experience that anxiety so much myself. And maybe it is hero, complex or whatever type anus you want to call it, but that I know. I can't actually stop my team from working too much or thinking about it all night long or waiting on Christmas Eve to be sure that everything executed the way it should have. I can't be them, but what I can do is be sure that what is waiting for them at their desks at work is like the best scenario. The way they're seen is not as an order taker or as a task doer, but as someone who is strategic and should be approached with that in mind, and I can be sure that their ability to get their work done efficiently and effectively is in place, and a lot of that is helping them not have those anxieties. If someone is caught in that mental space of did I mess it up? I don't want to push this button. What happened last time really freaked me out. Where they are second guessing themselves and insecure, they will not be doing good work and there will be more and more mistakes, and then we will all spend our days fixing that stuff, and so it's a vicious cycle.

Speaker 1:

It's absolutely true.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, like the only way to break it is to say hey, it's fine. And how do you make someone feel fine when they are worried about it for pretty good reason? For me it's just it has it's been planning, it's been planning and documentation, standard processes for each scenario and just trying to give them some structure so they aren't like swimming and floating out there panicking when this stuff comes up, because it is the job for sure.

Speaker 1:

So Are there any? Naomi, I'm gonna put you on the spot here in a minute too, but is there any? Are there any particular things that you do consistently, regardless of where you've been Like? Are there tools that you use or methodologies that you use, or just is it how you kind of, how you approach building and mentoring your team, or some combination of those?

Speaker 2:

I think it's constantly changing. I think if I were to say I'm doing the same thing that I was five years, 10 years ago, there would be a problem with that, right, because the tools themselves are constantly changing, the way that businesses go to market change and I think you just need to be adaptable and flexible to that. Also, making sure that Each team member has a voice and they're not just Kind of, they're not just yes, people right, they're not just doing what you're telling them to do and Saying, okay, my way is the highway, like. They're the ones you know, especially as you grow in your marketing ops career. the higher you go, the further away you get from the technology right in most situations, I would say and I think the I don't say the worst, but one of the most challenging things you can do is to Dictate things to your team when you're not necessarily in the tools as much as they are right, and I think getting that feedback from your team and saying like, hey, what are your challenges, what are your pain points, how can we make this better? And then Deep diving into it. I feel like that's the times that I'm in the tools the most is when I'm troubleshooting things for people or I am Trying to make something more efficient, or you know, hey, why isn't this working? Actually, a sound more like QA or support at the moment. I'm not gonna talk about say that, but yeah, I would just say like, like, listening is some listening to your team and listening to the feedback and really taking that action, because the worst thing you can do is like get this feedback and listen and hear it, but then not actually action on it or do anything. Right, because I feel like once you have a few cycles of that, then it just becomes a bit of like, okay, well, we're not gonna say anything, we're not gonna say anything because it's not, nothing's gonna happen. Right, there needs to be like tangible actions that happen from that, so that you can contrast you and know that when I go to you with an issue, that steps are gonna be taken to correct it or just it.

Speaker 4:

Yeah those are great points. For sure I there are some things that I consistently have done. I mean it's structure stuff. So I I don't think I could do my job without a project management system. I often ask people you know, when I've interviewed for jobs in the past, it is one of my Criteria maybe or just would you let me bring one in if there isn't one there, because I Think of. I try to break up the team's work into two different categories. One is marketing campaign execution. That stuff For us, lives in a sauna. It is. We have 40 different project templates. We have story points assigned to each task. I know exactly how long things take. It's like a level of effort measurement, more than it is time. But that stuff is Repeatable, we know it's happening all the time. And then there's the other type of work which are like more strategic MarTech projects. That stuff is. They're the big, hairy things that we all want to be doing, I think and love doing. But obviously the day-to-day campaign tracking and execution and building has to happen too. So I Don't really use a sauna that much for the strategic MarTech stuff, but for the campaign piece of my team it's so important. So that is something I've always leaned on and it remains so helpful to this day.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So I've used the sauna and I've used right and I've used other things and I think those tend to work pretty well for those repeatable things. What I have struggled with is the same thing I think you have, which is they don't always work. Certainly they can support all those vendors would like. Become at me like, oh, we can do these big projects here. I know you can, I think, but from a, the way that that's done in those platforms it sometimes not is intuitive, and so I've always ended up with multiple platforms for different types of things. And then I struggle with how do those ladder up to Overall business priorities or goals or objectives, whether it's for the team or for the business overall or, say, marketing? How are you connecting those dots right from strategy and goals big goals to the the day-to-day work, whether it's those Small, smallish, repeatable things or the bigger hairy things?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yeah, it's a great question and it's something that I mean. To Naomi's point about things changing all the time Holy cow, I don't think that this is a thing I will figure out perfectly in my career. I think everybody struggles with it, even at the highest levels of a company, and, oh, with the economy the way it is and Resourcing the way it's been. In the past year I've really focused on this a lot because I felt, I think, appropriate pressure to prioritize ruthlessly for my team and then prove that value out. So the way I've gone about it is by Taking company high-level pillars, those sorts of things we have, you know, like three of them, I think that the company lays out on an annual basis. Our team helps with one of those really only, and then Looking to my VP to be sure that she's broken down our department level objectives. And then my team and I think this is the thing with ops is I Don't perfectly have objectives that match what the head of marketing is is doing. You know those are different but I try to align them as much as possible and then just have best practices for and operations focused function in there and Then I break it down to okay, the strict. It's really those hairy projects that are Well, does this ladder up to any of those things? If it doesn't, it's got to just be bumped down to the later on, when we have more people on the team or more money to outsource these things. You know like it's still worth doing, but not right now. And and then all of the campaigns Are similar. You know, we we look to marketing to kind of prioritize that stuff. But once we get it there, then there's a whole process of okay, now I'm gonna go meet with the head of Revenue operations and be sure that the sales force team can support this project this quarter. That's kind of where timing comes into play and where I've seen things break down a lot over. My career is like well, just because it's a Priority to us doesn't mean that legal is ready to look at this or approve it. They don't have it on their road map this this year, much less this quarter. So that's a lot, a lot of it, as well as just being sure I have cross-functional buy-in.

Speaker 3:

That's a good call out. Yeah, there's all these dependencies on, on these other groups that you have to interact with, right I Especially on a sales side. I'm curious, though, danny what's your scale for your, for your Story? Points like what is your like? Oh yeah, do you do like a Fibonacci sequence or like what is your?

Speaker 4:

no, it's like. So the story points is a work in progress. I was literally.

Speaker 1:

This. Oh, I touched on something that's so. So I'm glad you asked a question, because I was like I think I'm the only one who doesn't know what that term means.

Speaker 4:

No, no, no. Oh, I thought my mic broke because it's new and I was trying to be.

Speaker 3:

Because she's got a work in progress thing and I put her on the spot.

Speaker 4:

So I know it's good, oh, it's a good thing. Um, I Stole the concept of story points from a creative project manager that I worked with years ago. Her name is Julie. She's awesome shout out to Julie. And so it's a. The level of effort is like zero, is it's very quick, it's easy, it's just like a no-brainer. One is Maybe takes like 15 to 30 minutes, just like a quick task to is there's a little bit of discovery, you know, and it kind of like it scales all the way up to the eight is the highest, and an eight is like this will probably take me a few weeks to even scope, like I don't know what this is gonna look like, but it is a very high level of effort.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah yeah so that's good. I love that.

Speaker 1:

That is not what I thought it was. This is. This is maybe so. For me, what I thought you were gonna talk about is One of the things I've seen that's caused failure and the implementation of project management tools especially for these things is having Templates or plans that are too detailed, right too many tasks like too many, and, and so One of the solutions to that is taking higher level. Like you have one task that, say, covers a bunch, like ten actual individual steps that you outline within the template for that task so that if especially this is helpful, if you've got new people, then they know this is a sequence of things that have to happen To finish this task. But you're not gonna take those ten and break them down into ten individual things because it's just an administrative nightmare. So that's what I thought story points with. Now I get it's a scoring mechanism, basically.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. And then usually Do you do weekly or biweekly, like what are your sprints? I assume you're sort of like doing sprints or monthly projects. So you have a cap of points that you can basically. Yeah work on.

Speaker 4:

Yep, this is also something that could be more nuanced, like I have a note in my document. This doesn't account for weekly workload, which is a big. It could be a big problem. It's been okay so far, but it's quarterly that we estimate that out and okay, interesting.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and then I'm working on it myself, so I picked. I was picking your brain. Real-time, you know yeah, how does she do it? Story points Cuz.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, it's, it's true, I would say. The other key thing that has changed my I don't know confidence level, I guess in speaking about this, because a year ago I probably would have been like I don't really know if I can give any helpful advice Is having a project manager on my team.

Speaker 3:

I Ask that question. I'm glad you brought it up, so you do have one.

Speaker 4:

Yes, she's part-time, very part-time. It doesn't work.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's an absolute game changer, for sure, even part-time. I've done that before me. Do you have project managers on your teams?

Speaker 2:

No, every Essentially every person on my team and myself. We act as micro project managers for each individual project that you're working on Not a dedicated one, though but we definitely make use of project management tools.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean just so. Sorry, I'm gonna drill. Do you? Is that part of it? Do you look for people who have that skill set or the capability of doing project management? When you do it through the Hiring process, then too, yeah, I think it's a natural.

Speaker 2:

I think it's. I think people who tend to be drawn to marketing ops tend to have natural project management tendencies where they can coordinate things very well. Yeah, and I would say it definitely depends on the complexity of the project. If it's, you know, a standard campaign or whatnot, then we already have SLAs and templates built in place that it's fairly easy to kind of slot in things. If it's more complex things like you know, we acquired a company and now we have to migrate all of their stuff into our things or if it's things that will just take Multiple teams over larger periods of time with multiple, I guess, progress points I Tend to be the point person on that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's interesting because my in my experience, I haven't seen a consistent theme of marketing. People who gravitate to a marketing apps are also good at project management. Okay, so to give you.

Speaker 2:

So I guess, to give you some context into that, we, at least at EFI, we also do have, you know, entire team on the IT side of project managers right, who, for larger projects, tend to get assigned to the specific Projects that they're also working on. They quickly realize that they don't need it, at least for marketing apps. So I tend to be the de facto one and kind of sit between the two.

Speaker 1:

But if you, if you said, hey, I've got this really massive project and I don't have personal capacity, then they would you have a potential way of covering it.

Speaker 2:

That's never.

Speaker 1:

It wouldn't be a full-time person. It's like as needed.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm just thinking like I'm. For example, our marketo migration, right, we had a project manager assigned from the IT side, but then I think the project manager quickly realized that it was more of a. It wasn't really needed, I guess, right, so it just became more of a. Okay, I'm just going to provide the updates, but I would write them and then they would just pass them on, and then eventually I just kind of skipped it and then just Wrote it to them myself.

Speaker 1:

Sure. Yeah yeah, and I I've had a part-time project manager for large projects. I'm thinking of one in particular and a big part of what I Told my leadership team and why I wanted to bring this because I knew I could do it. I just didn't have to be able to do that and it was such a big change project. There's a lot of ongoing communication that need to happen, with a lot of different stakeholders who weren't familiar with things. I needed to spend my time there and I needed someone to to help do the project management pieces, and A part of that I told them very clearly was you also get to hold me accountable. So I knew that I was also going to be a bottleneck and I did. I needed somebody else to make sure that I was not missing deadlines and things like that where I had stuff to do.

Speaker 2:

I Absolutely. I think what I quickly realized, especially on the IT side the project manager he's a lot of it is documentation and change management right, at least in document control, and so that's definitely something that I, very early on in my career, became very good at is Documenting things and making sure that you know this is where I can find this document, this is Referencing these emails, this is the date we agreed on things. So I have massive docs where I have all of this stuff. So anytime someone comes to me says, hey, do you remember what cost center this went to for xyz product and when did we renew this, within like two seconds I can bring it up and that I feel like that's something that has been, has, like I guess I could say has really helped me in my career is just to be able to write Process docs very well.

Speaker 3:

That's right. I think, in the context of sort of you know, just bringing a full circle right, like you, we were talking about mental health and work-life balance and the cognitive load that goes into being a marketing operations professional. I think you know that is probably one of the secret sauces if not the secret sauce to being a you know stand out professional in the field, that that can not just survive but potentially thrive. It's like it comes down to implementing processes that are Easily repeatable for yourself, like Naomi's example where she learned how to do documentation and then be able to recall on you know trust that you have an answer somewhere in the back of your you know backlog, somewhere right, and that just alleviates some of that cognitive load.

Speaker 2:

At least that's what I think right and it sounds super simple, but honestly, something that really helps is if you get an example of documentation from IT and then just copy their format. Hmm, hmm, right, it just said it sounds so basic, right, when it comes to documentation, but whether it be in a word doc or you know, we use Confluence. I look at the IT conference pages when they do change logs for things or whatever.

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm. I just copy their format and then it makes it simple for them to read there's so many people who've got templates for Repeatable stuff, even if it's a not exactly in your, say, functional space, right, I think that's a and it's a part of. I was recently doing that with somebody on a side project because I knew that person was really good at Coming up with this particular kind of template. That's so it was good to be able to go somebody and get that. Let's, let's bring this back to the and I get why project management, we it's easy to go down there and how I can play a role. So I'd like to cover maybe two more things before we wrap up and so you can pick the way you want to address these, danny. One is you do all this planning as much as you can, but then things come out from the side Unexpected, right? How do you? How do you handle those in the context of the, in the context of trying to have a plan and the context of providing, trying to provide as much of a, a Place for your people to have some amount of that balance? And then the second are there things that you do with how you Manage your team, right? Whether it's one-on-ones or coaching or mentoring, or External coaching or mentoring, things like that that you do again to help them with their own mental health.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, great questions. So on that topic, a Headspace, I do have to say, working for a company that focuses on mental health is certainly helpful because they provide free coaching services to any employee, and so that is awesome and available. And I Will also say, actually it's funny. Going back to documentation a little bit, I couldn't agree more. I think that's hugely important, and we on my team have developed over the past two years of 40 page Playbook just in a Google doc nothing fancy, but With sections on how we do, what we do in each scenario, contents, indication, lead scoring, how we work with revops, whatever all of it. But at the very end of that document I ended up writing a section about work, life balance and mental health on the team, because I Just feel like it isn't real until you write it down somewhere, I guess, or until people can trust that it's referensible, and so in that section I was like hey, please don't work more than eight hours a day on average. There will be times that you are hustling, but that should be the exception, right, it should feel like, oh, it's a fire drill, because it doesn't happen every week right.

Speaker 2:

Please you said it.

Speaker 1:

You said you're setting norms right yeah?

Speaker 4:

yeah, and it's. It feels like things you shouldn't have to say necessarily, but I think that's the biggest thing in mental health in general is talk about it, talk about it, talk about it. You have to say it.

Speaker 1:

And I love that I you're making me think of. I worked for a CMO a few years ago and all of us in the marketing leadership team we're getting really frustrated, we're getting late night messages over the weekends and we finally in a leadership team, he was like hey, you know, you need to take it easy on us. He's like what do you mean? We thought he expected us to respond in time what he was doing. He was trying to catch up. He wasn't always expecting us to respond. No one realized that until we actually addressed it with him. It was really good. It started us on this journey of setting norms as a leadership team, which then we tried to cascade down to our own teams to set expectations of how we were going to behave. If it was something that was urgent, it would be clearly articulated this is an urgent thing. If it wasn't set a time frame if you need one, if you don't need a time frame so things like that were really. It was eye-opening to see that, because it was one of the first places, or few places I've been, where that kind of open dialogue happened and it affected change.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely. Yeah, I put focus time blocks on my team's calendar and in that documentation. I'm like do not have Slack open as an application, have it in a desktop window. You can minimize that. Do not have notifications on If something is urgent I will call you, and that's never happened. I mean everybody's, they will check. It's just breaking these habits and giving yourself some mental space I love that. Yeah, well, and in terms of the second question that you asked around, dealing with the unexpected planning for the unplannable, I just put it in there like it takes up story points right. So we have a buffer built in, that's a 5%. Like people will have stupid questions. We have to. I mean not stupid questions, but you know there's many, many questions. There's lots of back and forth, sometimes we goof stuff up, and then there's also just a placeholder for being agile. So we have that on the campaign front so that we can jump when marketing needs us to lean in, and we also, you know, kind of hold space in the strategic planning portion of the team as well for the same thing, cause we know things come up and we want to be able to be responsive while also not stressing people out too much. Like for me, as someone who is kind of anxious, it makes a big difference to just know like, hey, we expect there to be fire drills. That is normal and acceptable and it's part of your job. It will not be all the time, we will address it if that starts happening, but we have it planned in, so it's okay. You know, just having that approach, I think, gives people some peace too.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So, naomi, mike, do either of you have any strategies like that that you employ to kind of handle the unexpected? What'd you call them unplanned Planning for the unplanned Planning for the unplanned. Yeah, there you go. I like that Silence. Nothing, yeah, nothing, is that it? I think this is the first time I've stumped both of you at the same time.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I don't have any secret sauce there. I mean, I think knowing that it's inevitable and it's gonna be there is the right mental state to be in. I probably skew the wrong direction on this subject matter.

Speaker 1:

The hero complexity you've got.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I definitely skew the wrong direction on this one. Like an email hits my inbox and I'm getting better about like, choosing that, like, oh, I don't need to reply to that right now. I could wait five days, but most of the time, like I'm an inbox zero person, so I have 20 e-mails in my inbox right now and I've got clients and I've got the marketing off stuff, Like. So I probably skew the wrong way. So I'm the wrong person to take advice from.

Speaker 1:

I'm gonna make you cringe. Mike, you wanna guess how many I have in my inbox?

Speaker 3:

Oh, I don't hear that 2,500.

Speaker 1:

Oh, almost. Multiply that by 10, almost, oh geez.

Speaker 2:

Whoa, I'm like Mike, though. And I have girlfriends who will screenshot their phones to me and then circle their mail and say does this give you anxiety? Does this give you anxiety? Yes, it does. I have a fear. I literally don't do this to me because they know me so long, Like, why are you doing that?

Speaker 3:

That's terrible, breaks me out, yeah yeah. And they're always surprised. They'll write us in, like write to us on the like contact form for some help, for something about the community, and I'll reply with, sometimes like within 60 seconds, just cause I happen to be looking at my inbox and there's, like you know, I'm sure there's a delight on the other side, but like there's also a part of me that's like why am I doing this? Why am I writing you back so quickly, right now?

Speaker 4:

Why am I this?

Speaker 3:

way, I'm glad I'm helping, but you know Anyway.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I don't know, that is stuff that I have told people not to do directly Because like and I think it's different again if you're freelancing or it's not this like intense relationship where, if my team just responds right away, people think we're waiting, we're just hanging out, just waiting for them to have some request, you know.

Speaker 1:

Totally agree with that. Right, that's perception I you know. I think on those two last questions I've done some similar stuff, right? Is you just, when you get the unexpected, you expect to get the unexpected and you work with your team to work around it and try to help them through any anxiety they might have about that affecting other things? The other thing, you know, for better or worse, I have a friend who is literally a brain surgeon, a neurosurgeon, and I do not know how he stays as calm as he does, because he literally holds people's lives in his hands on occasion, and so it's a good reminder for me when I think about, when I start feeling stressed about something about that work and did I send an email to the entire database? I'm like, well, at the end of the day, I don't want to discount that it wasn't an important or a bad thing, but it's like really, no, it's not Very rarely are we, very rarely are we doing something that's going to have that kind of impact. So I do try to keep that in mind. But it's hard. You know, if we've got people who are obsessed with the hero complex or inbox zero and you know doing cool, creative stuff, then sometimes you don't want to, you don't want to over, you don't want to stop some of that right, you just want to give them the tools to keep the good parts of that and minimize the impact of the bad size. It's like any one of these strengths has a corresponding weakness or challenge.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, the repercussion of responding too quickly is that you'll get inundated, and then you'll get criticized for not being on top of something, even though you've waited 24 hours. Actually, yeah, one of my clients is going to listen to this and be like you don't respond that quickly. You don't respond that quickly we called out.

Speaker 4:

there's a book recommendation actually that I have that this is relevant to. So have any of you heard of 4,000 Weeks?

Speaker 1:

No by.

Speaker 4:

Oliver Berkman.

Speaker 1:

No.

Speaker 4:

It is great and not what you expect. So he used to be focused. He was a writer about productivity and says he's a recovered productivity geek, but his book is basically about OK, the average person has 4,000 Weeks in their life. It's actually what the poster behind me is. People think it's really morbid, but I think it's cool. It keeps you present, aware of how you're spending your time, and I like it. Yeah, I like it.

Speaker 1:

I just did the math. It's somewhere just south of 80 years, right? So make sense.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and anyway, the inbox thing. He's like you find that the better you are at email, the more email you get Like it's just this. You can never really check that off your list. But the overall premise of the book is time management for mortals, like what do you do with your time? How do you actually prioritize? And it's a perspective that, as someone who's read a lot of books on productivity and is very into many project management systems and stuff like it's a really refreshing view on you can't do it all, so how do you actually pick? So yeah, anyway, that's a good one.

Speaker 1:

No, I think, any kind of personal time management, because there's lots of different things out there, whether it's Eisenhower or Franklin Gubbie or whatever, just where you prioritize big rocks versus all those things. The really hard part to me is discerning which ones are in which category.

Speaker 4:

Right right.

Speaker 1:

And being able to intentionally make those decisions. I guess it's a skill you get better at over time, but it is not an easy one to figure out. What is this thing that just came into my inbox more important than the other thing I could be spending my time on?

Speaker 4:

Right? Well, and Oliver Berkman actually talks about that. Where that's that old story of like a professor has big rocks, little ones in sand, tries to fit them in. The fallacy is that all of the rocks would even fit. There might not be a way to fit them all. And so then what do you do? And that's the reality, I think, especially with digital lives and leading a digital oriented career, you will never actually have time to do all of the even important stuff that you want to do that's worth doing, and so how do you deal with that in a peaceful way? That's tricky.

Speaker 1:

And what a great segue, because we are out of time, I think, here. So this has been a great conversation, danny. I think it went places that I didn't expect. Even so, thank you for your time. If folks want to catch up with you or connect with you or learn more about what you're doing or what's going on in headspace, how can they do that?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It was really fun and it was nice to connect with you all. Linkedin is probably the best place. I'm Danielle Worthman on LinkedIn.

Speaker 1:

All right, awesome. Well, thank you again, naomi. Mike, always a pleasure when you do this more often.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely I agree, Danny. Thank you Appreciate it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, thank you. All right, Until next time, everyone. We appreciate your support and look forward to sharing more content with you in the near future. Bye everyone, bye everyone.

MarketingOps and Mental Health
Navigating Work-Life Balance in Marketing Ops
Strategic Planning in Marketing Operations
Project Management and Story Points
Project Management in Marketing Ops
Setting Norms and Handling Unplanned Events