Lounge Talk With Laz Episode 8 Recap

For anyone wondering why my podcast was delayed for this week, unfortunately I haven’t had the time to sit down and record due to a pretty hectic schedule at work. Having said that, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on my time spent as a district digital manager and how much I’ve grown since serving in my position as a news editor for the Eastern Echo in 2016.

Serving as a district digital manager for the past six months has taught me invaluable skills that I never would have gained otherwise. Not only have I had to think outside the box and meticulously problem solve for my clients, but I’ve begun to grow outside of the rigidity and apprehension that I carried as the news editor for the Eastern Echo.

Reflecting on my time spent at the campus newspaper, one of my biggest shortcomings was my failure to effectively adapt to situations and stick with the same communication tactics that obviously weren’t working.

Hindsight is 20/20, but looking back there were glaring issues in my role as a leader of the news section, especially in the midst of internal crisis at the paper and external crisis affecting the entire campus inflamed by the presidential elections, racial graffiti appearing everywhere and a seemingly apathetic administration in the eyes of many students.

With my current position at General Motors, I’m learning how to address the needs of my clients, maintain flexibility in the face of changing schedules and spontaneous digital updates, serve as a trusted advisor and properly communicate through the right funnels and channels. I’ve also learned how to delegate tasks, follow-up and stay in my swim lane of work flow.

If I would have implemented all of these things that I have learned as a DDM in my capacity as a news editor, I might still be in the journalism industry instead of digital marketing, but that’s not how the course of events happened.

I struggled to assign and delegate tasks to my news team, often holding their hands too much regarding their articles instead of letting them learn and grow as writers. I failed in maintaining my swim lane as a news editor, often butting heads with the arts and entertainment editor in covering events that bled between both sections.

When faced with conflict I often shied away instead of addressing it immediately, to the point of halting the flow of news coverage because lapses in communication happened frequently and it was unclear as to who needed to cover what.

Instead of immediacy and convenience in contacting writers via phone call or text message I often relied on emails that often went unread. While I offered support for my team, I didn’t go above and beyond as a leader, often overburdening myself with stories in believing that I was leading by example in the workload I placed on myself as a writer instead of an editor.

My timeliness was lacking, often waiting days to edit and upload articles that needed to have been uploaded within a 24 hour timeframe. In fact, looking back I was actually afraid of public opinion, which caused me to act indecisively instead of boldly when sharing articles on social media for thousands of readers to see.

In those circumstances I tried my best, working 50 hour work weeks while grinding away at my senior year of college with 21-credit hour semesters and various graduation requirements. I also did some great things as a news editor; I won awards and earned praise for my work, greatly expanded the newspaper’s digital efforts and helped a few of my engaged writers flourish and continue down their own paths of success. I performed admirably, but it wasn’t enough.

Having said all of this, my time at the Eastern Echo was an invaluable learning experience that planted the seeds of my growth as a professional, leader and trusted advisor. So many people are afraid of failure and coming up short despite their best efforts; I’m one of those people.

It’s important to realize that we all make mistakes, we all aren’t firing at 100 percent every waking moment of the day, and we will eventually fail in some capacity. Whether we learn from those experiences and grow from it, or become crippled by those mistakes is entirely our choice to make.

Within a year I effectively transitioned from being a sales associate at numerous retail stores; honed my writing skills to be qualified enough for consideration as the Eastern Echo news editor; wrote some quality stories that made the front page of Eastern Michigan University’s media relations website; worked with start up companies as a digital marketing specialist; and now serve a district of dealerships in optimizing their digital strategies at a famous Fortune 500 company.

Including my successes, I’ve reflected upon my shortcomings in all of my roles and have feverishly sought out ways to bridge the gap and improve as an individual to better serve the clients and company that I work for.

One of my peers had said to me that some curveballs are worth swinging at; even though I’ve swung and missed at times, I’m incredibly grateful to have swing hard and hit a few homeruns in my career.

If anything can be gleamed from my self-reflection here, it’s to keep swinging and even if you strike out, continue to do your best, reflect on how to improve yourself and strive to be the glowing professional that you aspire to be. No one is perfect and it’s crazy to try and be perfect, but it’s important to keep moving forward despite the shortcomings, setbacks and roadblocks that come up in your professional and personal journey.