Tell-All: 4 team management lessons from Summit planning

I recently, ahem, was part of a core team running one of the biggest events in startup-Jerusalem each year, in its 4th year. It’s a production put on with a lot of demands, a lot of resources, a lot of professionals, but the core team from within the company are not necessarily production careerists (though a couple of us are definitely).

Before this year, the event planning was fueled with stress, rife with resentment, and even filled with fear. This year was different. And I’ve been exploring why.

1. The revolution will not be televised – and will not happen without a good team. 

For months we joked about filming a documentary of the event prep. We (I) didn’t do it, but if we had, it would have probably been side-splitting hilarious (to us). Something I learned was, any job – even the hardest, the ones that make you feel enslaved, depraved, and unappreciated – are actually awesome if the people around you are fun to have around, genuinely good people, and hardcore team players. That was a real turning point for me; why shouldn’t planning an incredible, complicated event be fun, if the people you work alongside inspire you to do your best possible job? The chemistry was right, the people were solid, and the goal was clear. It was a new level of teamwork we brought out from within ourselves.

2. A team is the sum of all its parts.

A few years ago I had this revelation. I was wondering why people would pay me to write for them. I knew practically why, but it was a symptom of impostor syndrome, and I really didn’t get it. I asked the question on twitter, and got a response: because they can’t do it themselves. They actually aren’t equipped with the skills.

Ever since then, I repeat this to myself. I’m not a logistics person; someone else is not a brand-builder. I’ll never run the finance department; someone else won’t be writing compelling invite copy. And so I build this appreciation every day for the people around me, diverse skill sets and frames of minds. Different career paths leading to this project; different life experiences to lend. I wish more people could appreciate how we all have something to contribute. If we acknowledge healthily what we lack and promote with vigor what others contain, we become a stronger force – with better results.

3. Ditch the dead weight – from your mental load

When working on such a massive, months-long project, it helps to leave behind the haters. The ‘this has nothing to do with me’ attitude of colleagues. Feeling held back by a need to convince everyone or try and infuse inspiration into every single colleague is not going to help me do a better job. I found staying focused on the end result was the right way – more calming, more productive. And luckily, from previous experience, we had the confidence to know we could keep moving forward and that we were right: it was going to be successful, amazing, and even better than we ever imagined.

4. Putting the ‘der’ in leader. 

Ok, this is going to seem obvious but shutup it’s been three years and I still don’t always get it.

I find managing a team challenging. I freely admit it because I think it’s healthy and it prompts me to work harder to seek out mentors and case studies to learn from. I’ve had no direct mentor, and frankly, not always the best examples to learn from. So I’m winging it.

This was the first year I felt properly equipped to run my part of the event as far as personnel. So I knew I had no one to blame but myself if I mess it up. And there were plenty of pitfalls – delegation is still rough on me. But as the heat got turned up, I knew it was manager do-or-die – if the team doesn’t get to take the wheel, then what is the point of joining for the ride? I lose them now, I lose them in the future, too.

Last week I learned what it truly means to let go – of the doubt and fear – and felt such a new pride at this smart, proactive, flexible team I somehow found the insight to put together. The right people – true team players – seek out opportunities to grow and stretch their skills. They don’t just take orders but they own their roles and figure it out. We need to surround ourselves with people like that – at work, at home, in life. It’s what makes a manager a leader.

There’s so much more I could offer insight on – and forgive me, it’s been quite a hiatus from thoughtful posts in the last few months while I was running around, well, learning. For that we’d have to get a cup of coffee or maybe just a humble facebook chat.

After all, there’s still event followup to put together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lizrael update: 4 facts till I reunite with coherent thought

Happy March! Since it’s been quiet around here, I’ve provided a few quick facts:

  1. Fifty-Two Frames isn’t the only thing going on in my life, but I have felt uncharacteristically quiet for a long while now.
  2. I haven’t been working since beginning of February. More on that another time.
  3. Sometime in the next few weeks we plan to get a baby out of me. Pretty much as ready as.
  4. I miss running! It’s the season and every time I see a Tzur Hadassian making their rounds, I really miss it. I’d like to do the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem half marathons in 2015.

There. I hope that unblocks things a bit.

How can I not eat this?

I love coming home from work and unwinding with Koala for a few minutes. Or half an hour. Or hour. However it ends up any particular day.

Today we played with trains. Unfortunately, Koala has a parent with a short attention span, which I suppose might be a genetic misfortune.

So after the train was wound up to make another round, I got up and wandered over to see what work emails I had to respond to.

Next thing I know I look down and Koala is holding my leg, looking up at me, and saying:

“Mama! Bo! More.”

Sorry work, but the trains win.

Flying solo.

I’m scheduled to take a quickie business trip to New York this week – sans bebe and not pregnant, which makes it the first time that’s happened in two years. Fun fact: I’ve taken 5 of those kinds of trips to the States since summer of 2008.

Here is a list I compiled of all the things you can hope to do when you travel alone:

  • You can use the hand scanner at passport control in Ben Gurion.
  • You can at least hope for a quiet flight.
  • You can have a window seat.
  • You can take drugs to sleep on the plane.
  • You can pack light.
  • You don’t have to consider car seats when thinking about how you’re getting to your destination from the airport.
  • You can stay by BFFs in the city.
  • You can drink at conference parties.
  • You can manage your jet lag on your own terms.

Now all I have to hope is that this fever and stomach bug I somehow managed to contract disappears before my flight.

Question of the week.

Q: What’s it like being back at the office?

A: I feel like a freshman in high school.

Everything is new; it’s still school like middle school was, but it’s bigger and more complicated. And there’s more home-work.

And I’m tired all the time from waking up at 6 am to get everyone out the door in time to ride the traffic and get into my office.

Sometimes I wonder how the seniors will think of me. Did I miss drool on my shoulder? Did I get milk everywhere?

Were they better at it than me when they were freshmen?

How fast can I get lunch down my throat so I have time to catch up on overdue assignments?

I miss my baby; he’s having fun with another girl and I have to try not to think about it while reading stats or writing documents.

And it’s all so new and overwhelming; I know yawning during meetings isn’t nice; but it’s not you, teacher, it’s me.

And as weird as this sounds, expressing milk locked up in my office, with occasional door-knocking – I feel like an awkward teenager trying to work out a tampon in the bathroom stall while the cool girls are standing by the mirror putting on lipstick.

Did I forget to pack all my textbooks… milk… to take home? Nope, gotta turn back and get the rest of my stuff. Now I’m late and my ride won’t be pleased.