“How I Work”: Kristina McMillan, VP of Research for TOPO @Lifeiterated #HowIWork

March 1, 2018 Matt Heinz

By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features from Inc Magazine and Lifehacker.  For the last couple years several leading sales experts and business leaders have been featured in our very own #HowIWork series.

This week I’m excited to feature Kristina McMillan, Vice President of Research for TOPO.  Kristina and her fellow analysts will present their latest research at the upcoming TOPO Summit, March 20-21 in San Francisco.  If you’re a B2B sales leader you won’t want to miss it.

Here, in Kristina’s own words, is how she gets stuff done.

Location: San Jose, CA

Number of unread emails right now? A couple hundred. After reading my emails the first time, I re-mark important messages as unread so I can quickly skim and address them later.

First app checked in the morning? Gmail/Calendar

First thing you do when you come into work? I usually pick one thing the night before that I will do before checking email. I try for this thing to be no more than 30-45 minutes to address, like expenses or creating a wireframe for a new piece of research.

What is your email management strategy? I typically skim my messages to find the ones that align to my priorities – clients, projects, events and other commitments.

Most essential app when traveling? Waze, I always like to have my bearings wherever I am, I even follow along with in cabs/ubers to make sure I understand the basics of getting around in a city. Also Facetime, so I can connect with my family when I’m on the road.

How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? I focus on the path through the chaos. When I find myself getting overwhelmed with stuff, I quickly write down a “hit list” (separate from my main to do list) and then start tackling them one after the other, until I feel like things are normalized.  I also find that quick interval runs, no more than 30 minutes, reset my brain and burn off the stress.

What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? Haha, I’m terrible at it. I spend a lot of time working, but no matter what, I’m with my family from 5:30-8pm every weekday and the majority of the weekend.

Are there any work rituals critical to your success? I focus a lot on “getting shit done and doing it right”. I try to treat everything I do with a sense of urgency. In my world, we can’t sit too long with a problem or project, we need to turnaround value to our clients quickly. Since my day is usually full of meetings, I spend every evening from 8:30-10pm tackling the 5-10 minute requests that I can’t get to during the day, and I try to knock out one 30 minute task each night to help me progress projects.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Email (gmail), Slack (for work & personal), Amazon (for everything, including groceries), Waze

What’s your workspace like? It’s portable, I move around a lot, visiting clients, working from my home office, meeting my team. It’s just my laptop and a fistful of to-do lists 🙂

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? I hate wasting time, so I’m obsessed with efficiency. I listen to audiobooks when I run, I schedule calls whenever I’m in the car, and I use delivery services for as many things as I can (Amazon Fresh for groceries, DoorDash for takeout, Chewy for pet food, etc).

What are you currently reading? I just finished the Achievement Habit (Bernard Roth) and How to Fail at Almost Everything…(Scott Adams)

Last thing you do before leaving work? Update my to-do lists, and create a hit list of stuff to do in the evening.

Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? I have been fortunate to have worked with many accomplished executives, but Stu Silverman (CEO of SalesRamp) has been an inspiring mentor and friend. I can’t thank him enough for his continued support and guidance.

Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? I have several coaches that I work with, and I am completely unfiltered and open when I work with them. They have been invaluable to my growth personally and professionally.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Actually the best advice was given to me as a compliment, and I have used that as a driving mantra ever since. One night about 10 years ago, my mentor and I stayed up all night working on a client deliverable that was due at 8am the next morning. Afterwards he told me that “There is no one I’d rather have in a fox hole with me”. “Fox hole” is a military reference, it refers to a defensive fighting position (usually in a literal hole) where 2 people work together to cover each other and defend their position. What it communicates is a complete and total trust in another person’s competence and ability to “have your back”. I’ve never forgotten that and have always tried to be that type of person.

Name a guilty pleasure TV show: This is Us

Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see Doug Sechrist answer these questions.


Let us know if there’s someone you’d like to see in this series!

The post “How I Work”: Kristina McMillan, VP of Research for TOPO @Lifeiterated #HowIWork appeared first on Heinz Marketing.

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