Last week our Strategy team hosted AM/PM, our first ever coffee chat for digital Project Managers to discuss tools, tips, and challenges facing our community. We had a great turnout, with about thirty attendees from top DC agencies such as Viget, AKQA, and RepEquity. It was amazing to be around so many talented individuals, and hear their insights on project management tools, team structure, and project scope.
Really enjoying the first #AMPMDC! Love getting a peek into other agencies and seeing how their project managers get things done.
— Melissa Cahoon (@MECahoon) June 5, 2014
With all of the meet-ups for designers and developers, it’s a rare treat for digital PM’s to have their own space to exchange ideas and foster relationships. We’re hoping that AM/PM can serve that purpose!
Thanks to everyone that participated! With all the positive feedback we’ve received, we’re looking at hosting our second AM/PM chat later this summer. Stay tuned and join the conversation on the AM/PM twitter account!
Perhaps it’s because I can toss a business card across the table with the accuracy of Peyton Manning that I often get asked to speak about the idea of “networking” or how to become a “super-connector.” That said, the word “networking” often connotes the transactional, disingenuous side of relationship building. At the end of the day, one of the best ways to build & strengthen relationships is to provide selfless value to others. Here’s what you’re doing wrong and what you should be doing instead:
You are Doing it Wrong: The business card collecting, name-dropping, sales-driven types might be good at filling out a rolodex, but they’re too quick to ask for value (or simply to try and sell you something) instead of seeking to provide value (an idea, a connection, an opportunity, etc.). Too often are they demanding value in an email exchange (like calendar spamming), rather than simply creating it.
The Right Way: Many have written up great advice on this front, from the likes of Steve Blank on “How To Get Meetings With People Too Busy To See You” , and some even offer actionable recommendations and exercises such as James Altucher — who has a simple list of skills required to become a superconnector. The main message is to provide real value to build real relationships. Here’s a dead simple way to get started: introduce two people you know to each other via email (two people who you know would both enjoy or find value in connecting with one another). Instead of #FollowFriday, let’s call this approach #IntroFriday. Here’s an example:
If you’re 100% confident that both parties will indeed be interested in meeting the other, then go ahead and let it rip. If you’re not, send them individual notes to see if they would in fact be interested in the connection. Through practice, you will sharpen your radar and develop better intuition for future intros.
If you don’t have an intro to make, email someone you know and ask what types of intros would be beneficial to them (an investor? a designer? a plumber?), and remember it for the future. That’s it. I guarantee if you practice this, something positive will come from it… and sooner than you might think.
If it doesn’t, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee. :)
Almost 7 years ago, I started iStrategyLabs in my apartment in Logan circle with a few months of living expenses in the bank. It was just me and a whole lot hustle propelling this thing forward. By year 2 I got a small shared office in Dupont and hired our first 2 employees. It was perfect. A place to kick your feet up, grab a bite on the roof and get some work done by the fire.
Anticipating more growth, we moved to a full 6,200 square foot floor overlooking Dupont and felt like we’d finally become a ‘real company.’ I figured we’d have a long time to enjoy the view.
Last year we started off with about 20 full time designers, developers, strategists and makers inventing things we thought might be interesting and valuable to our clients and communities. 18 months later we’ve leapt up to 50 people and can foresee a 100 person company within the next couple years.
That means we have to move. We have to leave the epic sunsets we’ve had the pleasure to share together in this wonderful lab.
But as with any truly valuable creation, when your project has spent enough time in the lab, perhaps it should make its way to a factory so it can be shared more widely with the world.
At nearly 3x the size of our old space, we’ve got a lot of room to grow here.
We have a lot of flexibility too. We’re considering including:
We don’t yet know what we’ll do. Our build-out plans are kicking off in the next couple weeks. I do know however that iStrategyLabs at Wonder Bread will be unlike anything you’ve seen in DC and…perhaps the world.
What do you think we should do?
Both gender and ethnic diversity are hot topics in the tech and agency world for good reason – because these industries need to pay more attention to the compositions and culture of the companies they’re creating. Early on, I chose to set the tone at iStrategyLabs on this accordingly:
To date we’ve done a “good job” – but not great. I’ve shared the numbers below. Perhaps we get a B for this report card – we’re hoping to get an A one day. What do you think? N = 50.
This final chart tells and interesting story. ISL is composed of 35% white guys and 65% women or minorities. I think we’ve got some work to do on the minority front – perhaps that should be 50%? 65%? Our weakest area is on the Engineering and Executive Teams.
For comparison sake, Google just posted “Getting to Work on Diversity” which shows ISL out in front on gender and with a lower White Guys composition.