New York State of Mind

Last week I was in New York. I kicked my trip off with a meeting at the Fashion Institute of Technology; then a leisurely dinner with an old friend who was in my team, oh I don’t know how many moons ago. Then I went out to New Jersey to run a Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders workshop with the IABC NJ chapter.

In a couple of hours, I will board a Cathay Pacific flight (Isobel insists!) to Hong Kong where will be putting a few new ideas to the test in that important market. So I’m sitting here reflecting on meetings with old friends and new. Is there such a thing as a “New York state of mind?”. Or was Billy Joel completely wrong?

Of course there is the archetype of the typical New Yorker, but let us of focus on the “new”. Is there a mindset or an approach to life that can make a difference in your career? Can you be purposeful? I think the answer is ‘yes’. Let me give you two examples, without giving too much away.

Exhibit one: my ex-team member, Kelly Anson. Moved to NY after a failed marriage and wanted to rebuild her life. She took positive steps to fix a few things, and made it happen. Now she lives in a great house, with a great job, and a great family. She’s got it all! But only because she took some active steps to make changes. Yes, luck is important – or, for Isobel, cleromancy – but you do make your own. And she did in spades.

Exhibit two: a completely new friend, Casper Toms. He came to my workshop at the Vanderbilt residence (more on that later). As you know, our workshops are generally designed for people in comms who want to advance their career. Casper works at a wealth management company, having studied Economics and Sustainability in Europe. So why did he come to my workshop? He wanted to expand his horizons, play outside his comfort zone and meet new people.

This got me thinking. There was a lot of excitement for the IABC world conference in Vancouver last week. A lot of communicators I know where there. I couldn’t go, alas. But I couldn’t help but wonder, are comms professionals over excited about playing in their own professional sandbox? Or should we be more like Caspar and attend things outside our natural home … to learn more about business. Maybe we all need to be a ‘bit more Caspar’ and have a different state of mind when it comes to networking and professional development. After all, if a finance person can come to a comms event, why not the other way around? Dare to be new, I say.

Oh, I promised something about the Vanderbilts. We did our workshop in one of the rooms of their old house: Florham. About an hour west of NYC. An echo of a golden era – I was reminded of West Egg but of course it is really modelled on Hampton Court in London.  Now of course, the house is part of a University and is focused on creating intellectual wealth, not financial. And I bet you didn’t know this: there’s good evidence that Cornelius Vanderbilt started his life as a technical expert (ferry captain in New York) before becoming strategic adviser (to his business partner in the 1810s) and then … famously … business leader.

That, to me, is the true New York state of mind!

“How can I become more strategic?” – A Carmen Q&A

IMG-20180727-WA0018Hundreds have played Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders around the world – and we like to check in with people. In this installment of our series of conversations, Carmen spoke to Cari Simmons, Senior Communications Consultant, Worldwide Sales Enablement at Citrix. 

Carmen: Tell me more about your your work?

Cari: I’ve been working with Citrix for five years in October and I’ve always had a communications role. I originally did communications for our Americas sales audience (about 1,000 people in North and South America). In January I moved over into a worldwide position.

We have sellers from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and North and South America.

So it’s an interesting transition. It’s definitely been a nice learning experience.

Carmen: That’s great. And when when you you’re not working at Citrix (and not playing Corporate Snakes & Career Ladders)?

Cari: I’m a big Netflix fan. I like to catch up on the latest shows with my husband. My dog is also a key priority in my life. I like taking her on walks.

Carmen: Nice. Now, you participated in our game at #IABC18. Have you been to a World Conference before?

Cari:  This was the first time that I had been! It was awesome.

I would say I went into it pretty blind but it was a great learning experience. I didn’t anticipate that many people from around the world coming to this event. But it was amazing to learn from other people’s experiences about what worked and didn’t work for them in terms of communications.

Carmen: And you also participated in Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders. Tell me more about that?

Cari: My manager encouraged me to sign up and go to that conference – and also recommended that I start it off with Snakes and Ladders. I didn’t really think we’d play a game; I thought that was just a description.

But I was very pleasantly surprised when I got there that it wasn’t the typical conference session where you’re sitting down and listening to a panel or somebody speak, and share their perspective for 50 minutes.

It was truly interactive and very eye opening. Not to sugarcoat anything here; but our team was not to the top team… I think that was interesting to see, because it altered my perspective of how I was normally thinking.

Carmen: Interesting, how so?

I needed to shift my perspective a little bit and the Snakes and Ladders really helped me to do that. It helped me start thinking ‘how can I become more strategic?’.

Carmen: That’s great. And then what surprised you the most about the experience?

Really how relatable a lot of the situations were and how different the opinions from people were. I think we had about five people in our group. Some were adamant on one answer and some very set on alternatives. It was interesting to hear the rationale each put behind their approach. We talked about this in the larger group too, agreeing that in real life, sometimes a blend of two answers might work best. And sometimes, also in real life, you might need to blend three answers. So it’s just good to chat and learn about everything.

Carmen: Has your approach at work changed?

Cari: Yeah, I don’t remember all of the classifications but we talked about how you look at different tasks. I think there was a nurse and a physician and stuff like that. So I’ve really taken that to heart and look at how the different tasks that I work on.

That’s helped me execute some tasks on my end better – and it helps gets my message across better to my key stakeholders.

Carmen: What other resources do you draw on to learn?

Cari: I’m always working on expanding my communications knowledge. I love getting different perspectives, and that includes following Carmen Spinoza on Twitter.

Something that we work with a lot here at Citrix is having that growth mindset, which I felt a lot playing a game. You don’t need to be afraid to fail. Sometimes failure helps you – and failure is the way to learn and move into the next step.

I’m going to pitch the game to my manager soon. Our team interest just grew by about 3 folks and I think it would be good for us in a corporate setting with a lot of different stakeholders and people who have their skin in the game. It’ll help us be seen as strategic leaders and partners.

If you would like to learn more about getting a growth mindset, as Cari has, why not connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her @Cari_Swerty 

And if you’d like to try the game: see if it is right for you.

If you’re an alumni and you’d like to be interviewed by Carmen, let us know here.