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Three lessons from my first six (ish) months at Vizlib

Three lessons from my first six (ish) months at Vizlib

The single best piece of professional advice that I have ever received is this: Always remember that it’s painfully easy to look around you and only see the problems that still need solving (and usually, there’s quite a few).

The only way you’ll thrive in a fast-paced environment is to remind yourself that amidst the challenges and questions that still require your attention, there are a whole lot of problems that you’ve already solved.

So, when you doubt yourself… when you question your instincts… when you feel like you’re falling behind or failing, look to those. That’s where you learn. That’s where you grow. And that’s where you can almost always find a spark of motivation. I heard this advice not too long ago, and I find that every time I think about it, it only rings clearer and truer.

Lessons from my first six (ish) months at Vizlib

When you’re building a B2B content strategy – regardless of industry or sector (or just about anything else) – you will (and I can say this with absolutely certainty) feel like you’re trying to solve about 100 problems per day. Some will be small (think: “How can we possibly make room for everything we’re planning to do?”), some will be big (“Why did that social media post underperform when we did everything ‘right’?”), and some will be really big (“How do we bring together every team across this multinational business to deliver cohesive content with a singular tone of voice that delivers information and education while also being engaging and – dare I say – fun?”).

These are just a few of the questions that I ask myself every day as the Head of Brand and Content at Vizlib and Astrato Analytics. And here’s the thing – I don’t have the answers to any of them – content doesn’t work like that! But I can honestly say that I’ve learnt more in the eight months since I joined this business than I learnt in the several years I spent as a marketing professional before joining this team back in April. Here are the highlights.

Three key lessons I’ve learned at Vizlib:

Listen to the voices around you.

If your brand or your content doesn’t reflect your people, your message won’t be authentic. I’m lucky to work alongside some of the most intelligent, hilarious people I’ve ever met. They’re also a pretty sarcastic bunch that won’t hesitate to give someone a hard time for, say, talking about putting your crocs in “sport mode,” or wearing bike shorts around the office (and yes, crocs really do have something called “sport mode,” and it’s worth a Google).

I spend most of days surrounded by smart people with a wicked sense of humour, which is why I have the freedom to build a brand that’s authoritative and also a bit irreverent. If I tried to force our brand voice into a more buttoned-up box, it just wouldn’t work. People are – by far – your biggest asset when you’re building a brand. Those jokes you’re making about new slogans when you’re not even thinking about it… those clever one-liners you’re throwing around at the lunch table – it’s all gold, baby! So why not throw it an email subject line or social media post and see what happens? As it turns out, sometimes finding your brand voice is as easy as listening to the people around you.

Go with your gut.

If you’re someone that’s into marketing, the chances are that you’ve got good instincts. Maybe you’re empathetic, or you’re a great listener or observer, or maybe you’ve just been around the block a million times! In any case, your instinct is something you shouldn’t ignore. Here’s why: Content is subjective. One message might work for one group of people and totally fall flat for another. You won’t get it right for 100% of people, 100% of the time. That’s just the nature of the beast. BUT! If you know what you’re trying to build… If you have a clear vision for where you’re headed with your content strategy… And if you believe you’re building something that will work, then you’ve gotta be prepared to step up and advocate for your plans.

At Vizlib, our approach to content is very collaborative, and we’re always talking about how to leverage our content to get the most out of it: How do we inform? How do we educate? How do we engage? It’s a constant and evolving dialogue, and a lot of people contribute to it, which is great. But no matter how many voices are in the conversation, I always let people know exactly what my gut is telling me. It’s been right often enough that I know it’s worth shooting my shot.

Build a team of people who would beat you at Jeopardy.

People say this all the time, but I’m only fully coming around to how important it really is: work with people who are smarter than you. Coincidentally, this is easy to do at Vizlib, where the people I’m surrounded by happen to be articulate and creative on a level that’s borderline intimidating, and that’s especially true when it comes to the folks on the brand and content team.

Over the last eight months, I’ve doubled the size of my team. And every step of the way, as the team has grown, I’ve made a point to hire people who have knowledge and experiences that I – quite literally – could only dream of (seriously: the most recent addition to the team is trained as a biomedical engineer, and I’m not seeing a way for my waking self to accomplish anything even remotely similar). I’ve never before had the opportunity to build a team this way, but it’s been a fantastic experience and I really do feel like we’re building something special over in our little (but expanding!) corner of the universe.

Here’s to the future! 

Ultimately, my time at Vizlib has been marked by growth: I’ve grown as a professional, my team has grown in size, and our content has grown into something really special. It hasn’t been easy and there are a lot of problems we focus on solving every single day. But! Every now and then, I remember to look around at the problems we’ve already solved, and the ground we’ve already covered, and I feel pretty darn content.

… puns are always intended.

If you’re interested in joining the team, take a look at our open roles. (You won’t have to answer any Jeopardy questions on the application, we promise). And if you think you’d make a great Vizlibber, but don’t see any roles that suit your skills or experience, feel free to submit a speculative application. We’re always open to hearing from ambitious people with exciting goals!

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