My Early Career Advice on 7 Sticky Notes

The Sticky Notes Above My Desk

In January 2017, I transferred from the Marketing Operations team to the Customer Marketing team. The subsequent learning curve produced a number of sticky note reminders posted above my desk. In honor of passing my six month milestone on a new team, I’d like to share them with you.

Chill out.

When working with people whose schedules rarely align, it’s┬átempting it is to do things on your own and circle back with them later.

Having the drive to get the job done on time is great, but in most situations the world won’t come to an end if the job gets delayed. Building a good rapport with your team members can serve you and the company better in the long run than risking those relationships to launch a project on time.

If you’re worried about the pace of the project, discuss it with your team.

Set aside the last ten minutes of every meeting to discuss action items for people to work on between meetings.

Also, if you’re working with lots of busy people, when you schedule the first meeting also schedule one or two placeholder followup meetings. Make sure to cancel the meetings you don’t need at least a few days in advance. They are busy after all.

Don’t be overeager.

Related to “Chill out,” this is a reminder to not start on a project before confirming the components, objectives, and timeline with stakeholders. Taking five minutes to send a confirmation email can save you a lot of time on fixing things in the future.

Do not share if not vetted.

Unless you are the expert, consult the experts before sharing your work. There are a surprising amount of things in business, systems, and people that will contradict your basic understanding of whatever you’re doing. Always consult the expert.

Pause. Go back later. Ask someone.

Related to the first three stickies, this one spells out a process for me to follow when I’m feeling unsure about something. This process is especially difficult for me to implement as I like to act on things immediately. (Letting drafts sit in my email is torture!)

Basically, when something doesn’t seem right or you’re not sure how to approach it, pause, write it out and go back to it later. If it still feels funky, ask someone.

Everything the light touches needs to be approved by Legal.

By “light” I mean anything that could be seen outside of the organization. This means emails, direct mailers, infographics, webpage copy, PowerPoint slides for webinars, etc. Everything anyone outside of the organization might see needs to pass through the Legal team.

Budget the first 5 min of a meeting for small talk.

This is my most recent sticky. As a driver type, I like to get down to brass tacks from the get go. I also tend to get louder as I get more into the conversation (I blame it on my Italian heritage). This can come off as aggressive or even confrontational to my amiable dominant team.

To create a meeting environment geared for open discussion, my director and mentor passed on this wisdom: budget the first five minutes of a one hour call for small talk. This casual conversation makes people feel more comfortable for a productive meeting. This also helps me get to know my team mates better since most of us work remotely.

You have to be someone people feel at ease to talk to.

Rather than thinking “oh crap,” think “OK.”

I believe I got this from a Seth Godin talk. Here’s what the sticky note says:

Rather than thinking “oh crap,” think “OK.” It’s a learning curve. Failures aren’t failures. Failures are learning experiences.

Remember that failing is a part of learning how to do your job better. In marketing especially it’s really easy to fail. It can be extremely difficult to pinpoint why something worked where something else didn’t work. That shouldn’t deter you from trying new programs and testing things out.

Don’t let a failed project hurt your confidence in doing your job and pursuing your career. Learn for next time. Write the lesson you’ve learned on a sticky note and post it above your desk.




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