By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including Anthony Iannarino, Dave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.
Periodically moving forward, we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions. You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.
This week I’m excited to feature Linda West, senior director of marketing services and operations for Act-On Software. A frequent speaker and panelists sharing best-in-class marketing operations work (and results!), West has been managing marketing for companies coast to coast including Fitch Learning, Wolters Kluwer, XpertHR and more.
Suffice it to say, Linda gets stuff done. Here in her own words is how she does it.
Location: Roseville, CA
Current computers: iMac 29” (home office), Macbook pro 13” (regular office)
Current mobile devices: iPhone 6s, iPad Mini
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
- Act-On – our marketing command center
- Asana – Project management and collaboration
- Google Hangouts – team chats and meme distributor
What’s your workspace like? It’s a bit eclectic. Along with the must-have picture of me and my spouse, I have a unicorn poster, a golden bulldog tape dispenser, and a mostly-empty bottle of whiskey. My physical desktop is always pretty tidy, but my computer desktop is another story entirely. With an endless stream of downloaded files and screenshots, my computer is every neat freak’s nightmare.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Work on planes and in airports. Don’t watch the movie, and don’t spend an hour at the airport pub. I consider this work primetime when I travel, and I think it’s a missed opportunity for a lot of busy professionals. We spend precious hours in the air and waiting for planes, and I’ll happily fork over $8 for Wifi if it means I can save myself from getting behind.
What everyday thing are you better at than anybody else? I have a knack for breaking problems and projects down into their component parts. This is really helpful in tackling large cross-functional projects and ensuring that everyone knows their role. With a large team that moves at the speed of marketing, it’s important to be able to see the big picture and the micro roadblocks at the same time.
This skill also translates to systems – I’m great at understanding how complex systems should (or could) work, which is a great help in building and maintaining a robust marketing tech stack. This isn’t necessarily something I’m better at than everyone else, but definitely a skill that has been very useful throughout my career.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager? Asana is my go-to. My team uses it religiously to track projects and assign tasks, and the asana app lets me carry my whole work world in my pocket.
I sometimes resort to a whiteboard, but it usually ends up like this…
What do you listen to while at work? The thoughts in my head. I get distracted by music. I enjoy music intensely, and listening to a good jam makes me want to dance, or relax, or do something other than work. For me, music is an activity in it’s own right, and when I work, I’m pretty focused.
My non-work playlist is long and diverse and spans from Chance the Rapper to Hiromi, and Stromae to Beethoven. For me, my favorite music depends on the situation, the atmosphere, and the company.
What are you currently reading? I am reading two books right now, which I think are a nice balance. The first, a little more serious, and the second, as fantastical as the unicorn poster on my desk.
Book #1 – Requiem for an American Dream – Noam Chomsky
Book #2 – Game of Thrones: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
What’s your sleep routine like? I am a night owl. If left to my own devices, I would stay up until 3am and wake up at 1
1am every day. Since that’s currently socially unacceptable behavior, I typically go to sleep at 12am and wake around 7am. But it’s not uncommon for me to work into the wee hours if I’m on a roll with a project.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty when they forget what it is to be young.” – Dumbledore
No, I’m not afraid to take advice from fictional characters. The authors behind these characters often have the most insightful and complex minds. The ability to create such rich, relatable, and emotive characters indicates a deep understanding of what moves us, scares us, comforts us, and gives us strength. As a marketer, my objectives are often similar. I’m tasked with understanding my audience, finding their pain, and delivering solutions that hit home.
This particular insight from J.K Rowling / Dumbledore is interesting to me on a couple of levels. It warns against the ignorance of inexperience and the dangers of assumptions; but it also urges those with experience to be more conscientious. It means that knowledge is responsibility. If you have knowledge, you must share it, if you have experience, you must use it. It also encourages sympathy between differing points of view, which I think is one of the most important traits you can have in the working world, and indeed, the world at large.
Anything else you want to add? My relationships with my coworkers are extremely important to me. I spend more time with them than I do with my own family. I rely on those working above, beside, and below me to do their part. They are my battle buddies and my #workfam. In order to enjoy my work, and survive the long hours, we have to like each other, too. Lucky for me, I work with a pretty kick-ass team.
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see Elon Musk, Rand Fishkin, and Gary Vaynerchuk answer these questions.