By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
The “How I Work” series is a favorite of mine from Inc Magazine as well as Lifehacker.
Every Thursday we feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader of our own answering our version of “How I Work” questions. You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.
This week we’re pleased to feature Elise Gruber, Chief of Staff at Denny Mountain Media where she supports the senior management team, primarily in the areas of program management, project management, and execution of strategic initiatives. With over 20 years of experience as a program manager in such companies as Microsoft and RealNetworks, she mastered the art and science of project management. She is truly a Swiss Army knife with a micro/macro lens. She’s also a mom who has been a Feature Writer for ParentMap and a Freelance Science Writer for Institute for Systems Biology. Elise volunteers at St James Catholic Cathedral. Here in her own words is how she gets things done:
Location: Seattle, WA
Number of unread emails right now? 0
First app checked in the morning? Outlook
First thing you do when you come into work? Check email and address any pressing issues and see which meetings I have. Then check Asana for immediate tasks in my queue and execute on them. Then add any tasks that arose from meetings the day(s) before. Then pick a juicy project to work on to move the dial forward on a larger task. If I have meetings, I’ll do prep for them.
What is your email management strategy? Not sure if I have one. As a project manager type, I’m always prioritizing and organizing communications.
Most essential app when traveling? Email
How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? By knowing the priorities of the work I’m doing. Reaching out for clarification or help when I need it.
What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? Home life will always be more important to me, but doing work that makes me feel useful and appreciated goes a long way to softening that split. I feel like working remotely has allowed me to work in a more natural way – push/slow/push/slow. I’m actually more productive at home than I was at work and with a fraction of the stress.
Are there any work rituals critical to your success? Checking task lists, whether personal or for work (in Asana).
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Asana!
What’s your workspace like? I work at a standing desk at home in our study – looks out over patio and trees. It has skylights and lots of glass so well lit. Very pleasant.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Picking up the phone (old skool). Too many people try to communicate complicated logistics or info thru email or text. Sometimes it’s SO much faster just to talk.
What are you currently reading? Catching up on old New Yorkers that are lying around and guilting me. Then I’ll treat myself to some fantasy with Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman.
Last thing you do before leaving work? Check email one last time and close out all my files (we store everything on the cloud).
Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? David Peugh, who I worked for at Cobalt (now CDK). He had a way of managing that helped you find the solution on your own. Only manager I had in software business who “got” me.
Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? Jill Sherensky is definitely that person in working world, but my spouse and family have always supported me 100% in every other way. I’m lucky!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Don’t get emotionally wrapped up in work and follow the 80/20 rule – it’s better to get it done and out there to breathe in the ecosystem than sit in a hole and try to make it “perfect.” There’s no such thing.
Name a guilty pleasure TV show I love British quiz shows of every stripe.
Anything else you want to add? I’ve never completely enjoyed working in tech – it’s not a perfect fit because it’s not where my natural interests lie – but I’m glad that I learned so much about process, how to get things done quickly, and how to operate under tremendous stress.
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. Lisa Barnett is a super sharp former sales manager for Phillips. She’s doing exec coaching now and is a friend and does a lot of volunteering at our school.
Nomination Idea? Let us know.
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