It's been fun looking back on the way I first met Nikki Little. We connected on Twitter very early on, but I finally had an opportunity to meet her in person when I was the video host for Chevy during SXSW 2012. The next year, she gave birth to her two adorable twin boys (#LittleDudes) and has been an inspiration to me as a professional woman managing not only her amazing career, but also a fantastic family. Be sure to connect with Nikki on Twitter and get to know her here!
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?
I was fortunate and landed a job at a PR agency immediately after I returned from studying abroad and graduated from college. Proof of "relationships go a long way" - one of my pals from college was working at this agency. She let me know about an opening, I applied and I got the job. I started at a PR agency based in Detroit and worked there for 3 years before I came to Identity to focus exclusively on social media strategy for clients.
WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?
My biggest career risk was leaving my former agency to join my friend at Identity who was building the agency's social media practice in 2010. I was in a great spot at my former agency. I had been promoted multiple times, and I was managing lifestyle/retail clients at a young age. It was fun, but I was hitting brick walls when it came to educating clients about how social media was going to change PR (this quickly became a passion of mine when I joined Twitter in 2007!) and trying to convince them to make social media part of their communications programs. The management team truly rewarded me for my great work, and I was terrified to leave, given that I was in a "safe place" in my career. I'm all about taking calculated risks now, but when you're in your early 20's, it's scary to take risks! I am so glad I did, because it proved to be such a rewarding career move. I've been at Identity 5 years now and couldn't be happier!
I also think my maternity leave was a career risk. Unavoidable, but definitely risky for my career. Long story short, I was on maternity leave for 8 months because I was in the hospital due to pregnancy complications associated with identical twins, plus I had an extremely difficult post pregnancy...and not to mention I was a first-time mom to premature twins! My agency leadership was super supportive of me taking an extended maternity leave and staying off work as much time as I needed. It was risky because I was worried about the adjustment coming back and how I would learn to manage a demanding career with two babies, but I figured it out, one day at a time. I couldn't have done it without the support of work family, and I'm forever grateful for that!
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?
Lack of control. I am proud to admit I am Type A, which makes me very good at my job! But when I can't be in control of certain situations, I feel off balance. I've learned to adjust and be flexible, but it's scary to feel like you're hanging on a limb alone waiting for someone else to hopefully come through and make something happen!
I used to be afraid of failure, but not anymore. I won't lie and say I enjoy failure, but I work really hard to avoid it. I'm not perfect, and I definitely make mistakes. But rather than fearing failure and being hard on myself when I make a mistake, I turn it into a learning opportunity. And it's highly unlikely that I'll make the same mistake again. :)
LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU?
Hands down, it was changing jobs and coming to Identity to focus on social media strategy. I loved PR, but I knew I didn't want to do media relations for the rest of my career. It's been amazing to be part of an experience that has fundamentally changed a company. I was the second person hired to be part of Identity's social team. Now we have six people and a constantly growing client roster that includes powerhouse companies like Verizon Wireless. Not to mention we've receive several national awards for our work. #SoProud :)
WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
- Pay attention to your gut and red flags. Your intuition will never steer you the wrong way.
- Never, ever act unethically. Even the smallest "white lie" will come back to bite you one day.
- Always exude confidence - whether you're in an internal meeting or speaking to 100+ people. You gain people's trust and respect quicker when you speak and act with confidence.
Going back to my first piece of advice above, it was not paying attention to red flags. It was a lesson I learned during my first PR internship at an agency, and I will never not listen to my intuition again! I saw a red flag on the day of my interview, but I ignored it because, let's face it, I was naive at that time. I was so excited when I got the call that I received the internship, so I again pushed aside the red flag. Then I experienced three months of hell. I learned so much from it, and looking back now, I don't regret it because I was thrown head first into managing difficult career situations.