I got married on 10.10.2020 and I’m taking my husband’s last name. So, I’ll be changing my name from Debbie Gillum to Debbie Wakefield.
Same Debbie, new last name.
Digital Marketing Pro in Columbus, Ohio
I got married on 10.10.2020 and I’m taking my husband’s last name. So, I’ll be changing my name from Debbie Gillum to Debbie Wakefield.
Same Debbie, new last name.
Hey, how ya’ll doing? Oof, it’s been a while. Let me update you.
I’ve been working at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine since early February. I’m proud to be on the Advancement team and leading email and social media strategies for the College and Veterinary Medical Center.
In mid-March, I began working from home, along with everyone in else in the world. To be honest, I was not excited about working from home. I like keeping Work and Home separate. I wanted to stay in the office and keep the routine I was just beginning to establish.
But, I had to adapt. I was thankful I had a desk at home in our second bedroom so I moved my work laptop and extra monitor there. I never thought I’d be working from home with my fiance, Nate. When we first moved in together, we didn’t think much about putting our desks right next to each other.
For the first day working from home it was nice to have him right by my side. But quickly on the second day, it was no longer nice. I love him but he slams his fingers into the keyboard when he types. He punches the keyboard. And sometimes he unplugs his headphones so I can hear all of his Slack notification noises. They weren’t even my notifications to address but something about hearing that “boo doo doo” noise made me anxious and on edge.
We also both would have video meetings at the same time, which didn’t work.
Oh yeah, and there was that time during a morning team Zoom call where Nate walked behind me in nothing but a towel…that was a fun way to introduce Nate to my coworkers. All I could do was apologize and laugh it off. Thankfully everyone thought it was funny too.
This weekend, we agreed one of us had to move their desk. So, I’m now in the living room. I feel like if our home was an office, I’d be the secretary who greets you when you first walk in and immediately asks if you have an appointment.
I also never put much thought into my at-home desk chair. I just bought a simple grey chair from Target when I bought my desk. Well, that chair turned out not to be ideal for sitting for eight hours.
On the same Wal-Mart trip where I got a Nintendo Switch for my birthday (so I could start playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons), we bought a nice padded desk chair that swivels and has wheels. It rocks back and forth and it rolls. I’m very happy in the new chair.
We gave the old simple grey chair to our new cat, Carl. We adopted him in late March, very shortly after we began working from home. We’d already talked about getting a cat but were hesitant about being home enough or when the right time would be. The time is now! We’re home all the time! We like working next to Carl. He either naps or meows, demanding we play with him. It’s nice to have an entertaining cat in our lives.
Of course, Carl likes to scratch my new office chair so I bought some double sided tape off Amazon to deter him from
Working from home, I find myself getting distracted and feeling guilty about my productivity. I was talking to a friend about these feelings and she suggested I start the day by writing a shortlist of things I want to accomplish that day. I like doing that because it makes me feel accomplished. Sometimes I jot my list down in my notebook and other days I use Asana. I go back and forth with digital and handwritten notes and to-do lists.
In late April, I spent about two weeks down in Loudon, Tennessee with my parents. They are both retired. My dad used to work from home so he had a nice desk set up in the basement that I was able to use while I worked from home.
One of the benefits of being in Tennessee was working next to my parent’s Bernese Mountain Dog, Fiona.
I wrote this back in February and forgot I hadn’t shared it.
Being paid to post social media posts of cute puppies is a dream job, for sure, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Full-time paid marketing jobs in the veterinary industry are rare but do exist. It can take years to build up your portfolio, professional confidence and personal network.
When I was starting out, I did social media for free for small companies to build up my portfolio. Learn how to position yourself as the ideal candidate when your dream job opens up.
At first, I was intimidated by the thought of networking because I had this negative assumption that it was this insincere quid pro quo arrangement. But, I quickly realized that it’s nothing like that. Networking is more like building friendships and helping others. When I network, I get to meet new people, who share my interest in marketing. I enjoy hearing about what they do and learning from them.
In my case, a year or two ago I got coffee with an alumnus from my college and she recommended I reach out to the owner of this marketing agency. So I reached out to him, got coffee with him, and stayed in touch on LinkedIn.
When I was job hunting, I emailed him asking if he could let me know if he knew of any social media or digital marketing jobs. A few months later he emailed me to recommend I apply for a social media job that he knew of. Best of all, he knew someone who currently worked there and connected me with her, so I was able to call her and ask her what it was like to work there. Then, she put in a good word for me and next thing I know, I had an interview!
A great way to build up your network is to attend local events related to marketing and join local chapters of networking groups like American Marketing Association, American Advertising Federation, Together Digital, or Public Relations Society of America. These groups usually host a monthly meetup which is a great place to meet other marketers.
I like to chat with the attendees at the event, and if it feels right ask for their business card. I follow up by email and invite them to coffee to learn more about their experiences. I’m not asking them for any favor, I just want to genuinely get to know them better and hear more about their career path.
If you’re job searching, quietly tell trusted friends that you are open to new opportunities. Tell your friend what kind of specific role you’re looking for, that way they can have a better idea of what job opening to pass your way. In this conversation, be careful not to be negative about your current role or company. All you have to say is you are looking for new opportunities, you don’t need to get into specifically why.
Be your own cheerleader and keep track of the great work that you do. Create a personal website where you showcase examples, screenshots, testimonials and case studies of work you’re most proud of.
Sort your work by category (social media posts, blog posts, photography, print materials, etc) or by what organization the work was for. Share details about why you created certain pieces, how the piece evolved, the goals of the campaign and the key measurements of success.
Also, print out examples of your work into a hard-copy portfolio. My portfolio is a simple black binder with laminated pages. I made it when I was first job hunting out of college and it gets the job done.
Bring this to every in-person interview and make sure to show it to your interviewer. They might not ask to see your work samples but make a point to show the great work you’ve done. Having an organized portfolio of your work really impresses employers.
When you document your previous work, you’re also preparing yourself to answer interview questions with real-life examples. See, when the interviewer asks “Tell me about a time you created a holiday campaign on social media,” you can easily show them your “12 Dangers of Christmas” campaign because it’s documented in your portfolio. I like to do this because it communicates “Well, rather than tell you what I’ve done, let me show you and you can see for yourself.” Let your work speak to your greatness.
Take the time to track your job search seriously. First, make a list in an Excel sheet of your dream companies. What’s a place you’d love to work at? Add a column to the right and note if each company is hiring or not. Next, note in the third column if you know anyone at the company. LinkedIn is a great tool for seeing if you know someone at a certain company.
Then, track what jobs you apply to so you can follow up. I like to do this in an Excel sheet too. One column lists the name of the company, another column lists the role you applied for and then jot down the date you applied. As you hear back from the company, make notes and update the sheet.
I learned this technique from the book “The 2-Hour Job Search” which is a great book to check out if you want to be more strategic about job hunting in 2020. (Fun fact: I borrowed the book from the library, left it in my car with the windows down when it rained, bought the book from the library, so now I own the book.)
LinkedIn is a wonderful social network for professionals. Don’t underestimate its power! I found out about one of my jobs because the company’s head of HR sent me a LinkedIn message. If I didn’t have a LinkedIn profile, she wouldn’t have found me, and I wouldn’t have gotten that job.
Be sure to check your LinkedIn feed twice a week. Take time to comment on articles, share professional status updates, look for jobs, and write articles. I like to use LinkedIn to see who works at my companies I’m interested in and then I reach out to invite them to coffee.
Subscribe to blogs and newsletters to stay up on marketing industry trends and news. Social media and digital marketing change so rapidly, that you have to keep your finger on the pulse. I recommend the blogs and newsletters from Snout School, Social Media Examiner, The Daily Carnage, Internet Brunch, HubSpot, Canva, Moz, and AdWeek.
Also, listen to marketing and social media podcasts. Some good podcasts are Copyblogger FM, Perpetual Traffic, Social Media, Lab, The Science of Social Media, Social Media Marketing Podcast, and The Socialette.
This might seem basic, but it’s valuable. Show up to the interview or coffee meeting 10 minutes early. Always say please and thank you. Address people you don’t know very well using their title rather than their first name.
Email a thank you note the same day of your interview or coffee meeting. Mail a handwritten thank you note the day after your interview. If you’ve invited someone to coffee, offer to buy their coffee.
Most importantly, be patient in your job search. Wait to find the role that gives you butterflies challenges and excites you. Trust your intuition if you get bad vibes from a company.
I like to journal about what I’m looking for in my next role, thinking back to what I did and didn’t like about previous roles. Jot down important questions you need to get answered before you accept a role. Remember that you’re interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you.
You deserve a job you love every day.
Last week, I went to the Together Digital 2020 Digital Trends panel. I learned that voice continues to be a powerful force, with more people using smart speakers to search for things. It’s becoming critical that content on websites is set up to answer voice questions. I’m starting to ask my Google Home more and more questions so I can keep learning about voice search.
Thank you to the panelists April Jones, Stephanie (Stevi) Cannon, Sheryl Mckenzie, and the moderator Kimberly Lee Minor, CLSSBB.
My key takeaways from the event:
Recently I watched “The Imagineering Story,” a new docuseries on Disney+ about the history of the Disney theme parks. I grew up going to Disney World every year with my mom and when I wasn’t at the park, I was reading about all things Disney and watching TV specials about the Behind the Scenes of the park. Even to this day, I watch YouTube videos of Disney cast members talking about their experiences. So, “The Imagineering Story” was right up my alley.
As I was watching it, a lot of the senior executives and Imagineers started to say familiar advice that I’ve seen in my career. I was surprised that Disney employees faced similar issues at work. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the takeaways and lessons from “The Imagineering Story.”
The Disney Imagineers, or WED Enterprises as they were formally referred to, were encouraged to take risks. I should stop to clarify that Imagineering is a term unique to Disney and is the combination of creative imagination and technical knowledge.
In Episode 4, called “Hit Or Miss,” Imagineers recalled how in the 1990s there were dedicated teams focused on exploring new technologies, different attraction layouts, and new ride vehicles.
“Succuss is about many many failures,” said Jon Snoddy, an Imagineer with Advanced Development. He goes on to talk about how they created a culture that doesn’t judge if things fail. In fact, they intend to fail! If over half of the projects succeed, then they aren’t trying hard enough. This experimentation helped them when it came time to create Tokyo Disney Sea. I love how much Disney prioritizes and values experimentation and risk. And moreover, how their team leaders support that innovation. That’s where the magic happens.
But, Imagineers aren’t naive. One senior Imagineer, Joe Rohde (the guy with the incredible left ear piercing) acknowledges that Imagineering is very frustrating for business-minded people. There is a permanent tension between Imagineering and the business department. “Core components of creativity do not reconcile with efficiency-based business theory,” he said. How do you balance these two?
This tension is not new. According to Disney folklore, Walt Disney was always asking his brother Roy for more money so he could do more creative ventures and Roy was skeptical and nervous. Roy was business-minded and Walt was creative and risk-taking.
In episode 3 “The Midas Touch” the Imagineers go into detail of how Euro Disneyland, later called Disneyland Paris, was built. They wanted to create the most beautiful Disney theme park and spared no expense.
They returned to their history when building this new park, using tried and true principles. Walt Disney had four levels of detail that he preached to Imagineers. Design Imagineer Coulter Winn describes these principles as:
All of these detail levels need to work together. Coulter says that at Disney they have to get to Detail Level Four to immerse guests in their story. This is where people fully buy-in and believe what you’re selling.
These different levels of details reminded me of the Buyer’s Journey or Customer Funnel. First, you have the awareness stage when the buyer starts to hear of your brand in the distance, then they become interested and learn more about your brand, thirdly they are intent on buying your product and last they purchase what you’re selling. Just like with Disney’s design levels, your customer journey has to lead them to that purchase or Design Level Four.
With budgets as large as Disney’s it’s hard to think of them scrimping, saving and repurposing things. But, they are first and foremost a corporation focused on pleasing shareholders. I was surprised to learn in Episode 3 “The Midas Touch” that Disney Imagineers reused animatronics and set designs from an old 1974-1988 Disneyland attraction called “American Sings.” The happy singing birds, frogs, turtles, alligators, and rabbits found a new home at a more exciting ride called Splash Mountain. They fit right in next to the other Song of the South characters. Disney probably saved millions in time and money not having to design and build new characters for Splash Mountain.
Take a look back at work you’ve previously made, whether it’s a template built that wasn’t used or a draft of a design. Could you repurpose that work?
When Imagineers were building Michael Eisner’s Disney’s California Adventures, they worked on a tighter budget than they had on Euro Disneyland. They were also divided between two projects. One team worked on California Adventures while the other worked on the new Tokyo’s Disney Sea, which had a much larger and looser budget.
One Imagineer, Bruce, recalled the short-lived, much hated, ride Superstar Limo and how it was built by Imagineers who were in these tight pods, not consulting with anyone else. They had adopted the mindset of, “This is my attraction.” They stopped checking in with their peers to ask if this was good enough. They lost touch. Whereas, in previous Disney theme parks, rides were built more collaboratively. Superstar Limo only lasted one year and was later remodeled into a Monster’s Inc themed ride.
Take time to chat with or eat lunch with people in other departments at work so you can share what you’re working on and collaborate.
One of the head Imagineers for Animal Kingdom, Joe Rhode, stated that he’s most proud of the projects that have a non-entertainment payback within them. He’s proud of the conservation station, a working research lab and a conservation fund that resulted from Animal Kingdom.
Profits, entertainment, metrics aren’t enough to make a long-term meaningful impact. Richer rewards are needed. Who are you helping? How can your work give back to the community?
As a kid at Disney, you don’t think much about how the theme park rides are built. They just kind of appear one day. As you get older, you realize that the project of building a theme park attraction isn’t all that different from working on a project at your work. Everyone has to collaborate, think creatively, first you build a mockup, you try to repurpose things, and you need to have a sense of purpose behind it all.
I thought “The Imagineering Story” would be similar to the “One Day at Disney” movie that blatantly and blindly praised Disney CEO Bob Iger. But no, in “The Imagineering Story,” mistakes are acknowledged. A key takeaway from the docuseries is that when theme parks like Euro Disneyland, California Adventures and Hong Kong Disneyland were built for half the price, to please shareholders, the quality suffered, attendance shrank and guests were not happy. This modern cost-cutting mindset becomes more frustrating knowing it violates Walt Disney’s wishes. Walt is quoted as having said “Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.” I hope that in the future, Disney can continue to balance creativity with profitability, in order to continue its legacy and because many other businesses look up to Disney.
Often the impact you make in a role goes beyond what you did as part of your everyday job duties.
I went thrift shopping at Volunteers of America today because I love thrifting. I needed to donate some old coffee mugs and I wanted to see if there were any cute sweaters or dresses. I love to check-in and hunt for unique clothes at the thrift store so when someone compliments me on it I can brag that I found it at a thrift store. The joys of thrifting!
I found some dresses I liked and as I was checking out, the cashier recognized me. “Oh, you’re the girl who put that TV up!” She pointed to the TV on the wall above her where a slideshow was playing.
When I worked at Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana, in an effort to educate thrifters and distinguish VOA from other for-profit thrift stores, I designed a simple slideshow to inform shoppers that VOA is a non-profit and show photos of clients who have been helped by the proceeds of the store. I took this project upon myself and volunteered to do it. After I made the PowerPoint, I came into the thrift store with a flash drive, stood up on a ladder, plugged the flash drive into the TV, fiddled with the remote and taught the store employees how to turn on the slideshow each day. I did this multiple times in our different stores, To be honest, in the moment, the slideshow felt like an annoyance to me. I had to interrupt my day, drive to the thrift store, mess with a TV when I know very little about TVs or remotes or Input buttons. Sometimes, the TV wouldn’t turn on, the remote wouldn’t work or the TV wouldn’t play my PowerPoint in the format I had saved it in. It was frustrating. I would think, “This isn’t what I signed up for. This is not my job. Someone else should be doing this!”
Older Debbie now knows that likely no one else would’ve made the slideshow and taken the time to install it. I’m now able to take a step back and see how the slideshow has endured after I left VOA. It made me happy to see that the slideshow still plays in the VOA thrift store every day.
The cashier handed my stuff to me and I looked down to see a plastic bag that I recognized. I helped design the bag, hell I even worked with the plastic supplier to get it made. I learned more than I wanted to know about how plastic bags are made and shipped!
The idea for this started as part of an innovation brainstorming session we’d had with different team members in different departments. We needed to find a way to increase thrift store donations. Someone suggested we redesign our bags. The bags could become a tool for future donations if they had our logo, phone number, tagline, website, etc. It sounded like an easy solution to change the bags at first but ended up taking about four months to complete. It was tough to juggle this bag project on top of my other duties especially when I was doing something I’d never done before. It took a lot of persistence but eventually, the thrift stores switched from generic red and white Thank You bags to branded bags, with a meaningful tagline on one side and useful information about how to donate items back to a VOA thrift store.
The impact of my time at VOA can be found not just on the website and social media. In fact, I’m not too sad if no one remembers the social media posts I made. I know I made a lasting impact by working on things outside of my stated job description. I went to meetings, listened to problems that existed, volunteered to raise my hand, thought of creative solutions, tried new ideas and worked with others to make the change happen. I was thinking about this on my drive home and I’m not one to brag but I do need to acknowledge that I did some awesome things for a non-profit that’s dedicated to helping everyone reach their full potential and achieve well being.
Every time I walk into a VOA thrift store, I’m reminded of the impact I made during my time there and I feel so proud.