I met Amy and Elise along with the majority of our Wheels Up team back in 2017 while we were all working for our previous employer. In fact, Amy interviewed me for that position the very same morning I flew back from a weekend at Coachella. Though I was still a little foggy -- don’t worry, I’m an old millennial now and have since retired that hat -- she saw something in me that shaped the rest of my career: a passion for relationship building.
As a pretty green marketer at the time, I joined that team surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the industry, and I loved every minute of it. When our company was acquired the following year, I stayed with the new parent organization while everyone else chartered new career paths. Truthfully, I kind of felt left out but staying behind allowed me to further develop my skills and became an expert in my trade.
Then, last year, emerged Wheels Up: An idea born out of the desire to help startups and small-midsize businesses take flight and reach their full potential. When Amy and Elise asked [begged] me to work on a few client accounts I jumped at the opportunity. I mean, how fun -- I get to work with my friends, cool startups, and make some side money? Count me in. Though, I did join with some hesitation. I was still working my full-time gig and had a lot of personal developments requiring time and attention, not the least of which include:
A move! My partner and I sold our Seattle house and bought a riverside ranch in North Bend, WA. We now get to experience all that the PNW has to offer, in our own backyard.
A baby! We don’t have one yet but are active in our fertility journey and can’t wait to experience what parenthood is all about.
A dog! We already have two cats and two dogs but we need more chaos, so here comes Hank (born Nov. 1, 2021), our second crazy lab.
A chicken-coop? Not sure why I agreed to this, but I’m actively building a chicken coop and will welcome some chicks next spring. Stop by for fresh eggs!
That initial hesitation has eased in part, thanks to good examples. As I navigate these life changes, I’ve been taught by our clients the art and science of juggling a lot of things at once -- because that’s what they do every day. Their grit and focus inspire every aspect of who I am, making me a better, more productive, and agile human. Plain and simple, joining this team has lifted my spirit and re-energized my purpose in ways I didn’t know I needed.
This statement is not a false advertisement: Our clients are pretty freaking awesome. They have built state-of-the-art solutions that simplify arduous tasks and aim to solve some of the most pressing issues facing society today. With a skilled team in my back pocket, my job is to make sure our clients have an amazing experience working with us and to ensure that we use their time, resources, and ideas well. For all of us at Wheels Up, it’s not about performing the day-to-day tasks that keeps us going. It’s about creating authentic, trusted bonds with our clients and helping them change the world for the better.
Back to juggling -- sometimes a ball drops either by accident or by choice. I’m choosing to drop my “other job” to go all-in with Wheels Up. It may be a risk, but it’s one worth taking to support the people and ideas that I believe in. Starting next month, I’ll head up our client relationships so that they have our undivided attention and a true partner-in-crime. This change also affords me the space to look inward to improve processes. I’ll reflect on what hasn’t landed with our clients so we stop doing that; explore what has worked really well so we do more of that; and think about what we haven’t tried yet so we bring fresh perspectives to the many clients of our future.
With renewed focus, I am so excited to better balance the personal developments mentioned above and the needs of our growing client base with more ease, flexibility, and a whole lot more passion. Between the trust I have with my colleagues, the partnerships I have with my clients, and the bonds I have at home, there’s no better environment for me to succeed in these areas than at Wheels Up. This is my place and these are my people.
Based off what I’ve learned so far, here are my 3 top tips for nailing work at your start up, being proud of the work you do, and at the same time, juggling a ton of competing priorities:
We’re all strapped on bandwidth and resources. Let us help you - that’s literally what we’re here for. We’re part of your team. We’ll keep you accountable. We’ll motivate you to think outside the box. We’ll get you the results you aim to achieve. Each of us have unique skills, take advantage of them and let us teach you (and learn from you) along the way.
When something goes wrong - don’t be too hard on yourself. Use your learnings to make the second or even third attempt a success. We’ll monitor and report metrics weekly. We’ll adjust to your schedule and make pivots in real-time. We’ll take ownership when there are opportunities for us to do better. Our team loves when our clients are happy so we’ll do everything in our power to succeed in that.
Investors want to see profitability but they also want to see people that really enjoy what they are doing. Make sure you’re checking in with your team and change what’s not working when you learn about it. While we take (at least some) marketing off your plate, use that time saved to shore-up other internal processes and recognize the hard work your team is putting in. Heck, throw a party!
I hope all the baton twirlers, ball jugglers, and scrappy startups out there reading this (plus Amy’s mom!) know you’re not alone - we’re right there with you, and we love being part of your journey.
And during the month of thanks, I’d be remiss not to say thank you -- to all of you. This small, witty, and forthright agency would not be possible without you. You make us better and we love you for that. Thanks for reading my views and first draft of my autobiography,