Last September, I was lucky enough to celebrate 10 years working at Affect. Next week, I’m off on a beach vacation with my family – a gift from the agency for a decade of work. In an industry known for a lot of stress and an incredibly high churn and burnout rate – I feel lucky to call Affect home. Affect (and the PR industry as a whole) has changed so much since I was hired as a marketing manager in 2006 and my anniversary has given me an opportunity to reflect on the journey so far – including the biggest career lessons that I’ve learned along the way:
- You Need a Work Squad. I spend 8+ hours a day at work – and I don’t want to spend that time with a bunch of jerks. I’ve always been lucky that at Affect – the people I’ve worked beside are talented, intelligent and compassionate. Affect’s management team has become a group of close friends – they’ve supported me in both my professional and personal life, they’re my squad and I’m lucky to know and learn from them.
- Relationships are Everything. I have worked with so many incredible clients and professionals over the past decade – we’ve laughed together, brainstormed together, stressed together and collaborated to produce really amazing campaigns and work that I am so proud of. A major reason why working at Affect has been so fulfilling is the people I’ve met along the way – and our agency’s commitment to prioritizing relationships and people. I’m proud to say there are clients that I’ve worked alongside for 5, 8 and even 10 years – that feel like my work “family.”
- The Excitement Doesn’t Fade. I’ve always said that the biggest reason why people work in PR, despite all of the stress, is because when you win – you win big. I still get a rush when I see a client’s name in the AP, the WSJ or the New York Times. Seeing my team win an award, do amazing work for our clients and celebrate small victories everyday feels just as good today as it did ten years ago.
- Keep Learning. I’ve learned something new for every year I’ve been at Affect. Years ago that meant navigating social media (and getting the opportunity to help build Affect’s practice) and today it means honing my skills and having a seat at the table for agency decisions. My years at Affect have allowed me to become a well-rounded professional – and I truly believe that to be successful in PR, you must be willing to learn.
- But, Ask For Help. If you’re always learning, you must humble yourself and acknowledge that there are things you do not know. One of the most inspiring aspects of agency life is the ability to tap into the knowledge of the people around you – whether that’s a colleague, a vendor, a partner or an industry vet. My years at Affect have connected me to an amazing network of professionals – and their counsel has been invaluable.
- It All Gets Done. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a project or reviewed a scope of work and thought, “how will this get done?” I also can’t tell you how many times Affect’s president (and my mentor), Sandra Fathi, has calmly replied, “don’t worry about it, just do it.” That approach has greatly impacted how I tackle work today – worrying is wasted time, and I can honestly say – when you have a smart, talented team – it always gets done.
- Don’t Let the Execution Hold Back the Big Idea. Affect is always in pursuit of the next big idea – and one of the core tenants of our culture is fearlessness. There have been many projects that have been new to me, but that hasn’t stopped Affect from challenging me to get the job done. I’ve learned that you can’t be creative if you refuse to see the bigger picture. You should never let the fear of “how does this work?” or “how will I learn to do this?” get in the way of your biggest ideas.
- Be Honest, Be Yourself. I was in a completely different stage of life when I started at Affect – and in the decade I’ve been with the agency, things have changed dramatically (marriage, move to the suburbs, baby #1, baby #2). Regardless of where I have been in my life, I have always, always been encouraged to be myself. At Affect, that means my opinions are heard and I’ve never been asked to compromise my values or ethics. I’ve also been given opportunities to utilize my best skills and capitalize on the things I do well.
- Work Life Balance Takes a Village. I have two kids under the age of four – I love being a mom…and I also love my job. Essentially, I want to do it all and I want to do it well. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in prioritization and working efficiently, but I’ve also learned how important it is to work in an environment that truly supports working parents. Affect has always allowed me to put family first – and has never stopped giving me opportunities to grow professionally. Being a working mom has pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me – but I’ve found balance (most days!) and owe a lot to my colleagues’ support and the culture at Affect.
- Don’t Forget to Have a Good Time. The Affect management team loves to reminisce about some of our craziest adventures – from stopping in Waco, TX to eat a ‘gut pack’ made of Fritos, to funny trade show stories, to the cast of characters we’ve met along the way. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned at Affect is that there is fun to be had everyday – there’s always something to laugh about and a way to commiserate. It’s important to look up once in awhile and enjoy the journey.
Thanks again to Affect for 10 life-changing years – and a big thanks to the colleagues, clients and partners that I’ve met along the way. Cheers to the next ten!