I know we're all sad that JiveWorld17 is over, but this next installment of How I Work should cheer you right up! This month I am so excited to introduce Kirsten Laaspere from Akamai Technologies. You should know her because she's our current Peer-to-Peer Internal Community Manager in JiveWorks! She was also a speaker at JiveWorld17 (check it out: How do I prove my value? Measuring the Community Manager and making the case to grow the team), is a Jive Champion, a hockey fan (even if it IS an inferior team to the San Jose Sharks ), a fabulous community member and much, much more. Want to know what "much, much more" means? Read her interview to find out!
HELLO EVERYBODY! WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF ME.
Let's start with a photo album of adventures. Photos are fun. And I am particularly biased towards my particularly excellent adventures.
My brother got married in Cinque Terre, Italy... it was pretty nice.
My mom and I look NOTHING alike.
I MET THE BRUINS! (There are three more photos like this one with other players. I'm like, you know, a bit of a fan... or whatever.)
Oktoberfest... the real one. Surpasses the hype.
I may have scared a few people...
Overlooking Barbaresco, Italy.
So. Much. Wine.
Switzerland made me a rainbow!
Where do you work?
Akamai Technologies. I am based out of our Cambridge, MA office, also our headquarters, but I interact with incredibly smart people around the globe. Also, if you don't know what we do, check out our website. I'm seriously not trying to sell you; Akamai effects literally all of our lives and I find it immensely fascinating. nerd
How would you describe your current job?
I was recently called "Supreme Overlord," and I find that pretty apt. Not really, but it's still fun. I do have a lot of power. I manage the social intranet for a global company with thousands of people; and since social intranets are largely people driven, I essentially manage thousands of people. So, Supreme Overlord may not be too far off. People come to me with complaints - and sometimes chickens for my table - and it is my responsibility to listen and take action on behalf of my people. Even though I'm in charge, I work for the community, and everything I do is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our employees. I have an absurd amount of freedom with my responsibilities, which is absolutely divine. I am trusted to do what's best and what's right, and while I align up to the greater department and corporate initiatives, my day-to-day decisions and my larger priorities are usually my own to decide. This is awesome and is part of our company culture - we hired you because we trust you, so do your job. It's great.
How do you use Jive at work (internal community, external community, etc.); what use cases does it serve for your company?
Akamai uses Jive for both external and internal communities, but I'm purely internal. We launched our external community (October 2014) about a year before we launched the internal community (August 2015). Externally, our community is focused at customers, partners, prospects, and guests, serving as a knowledgebase, support system, and discussion forum. Internally, our community serves as a social intranet, having replaced our legacy static intranet for a DIY self-service intranet model. I am lucky enough to sit within our Corporate Communications team, which means I get to run the collaboration side of the intranet in direct parallel with the communications side. We also have a phenomenal relationship with our IT team, which makes us a wholly rounded team and a well oiled machine!
What about your community/communities are you most proud of?
I am most proud the underdogs. We all have a general understanding about who is going to easily learn and adopt social tools and who might be more difficult to onboard, but every once in a while a person or team just hits the ground running and defies expectations. The Legal team at Akamai is one of those cases. We did not target them as an early adopter, but they went ahead and became one anyway. By actively pursuing this new way of building a living knowledgebase and soliciting questions (employee-facing department spaces) as well as developing a super active, multi-faceted private collaborative community (team-only group with many projects), the Legal team became one of our top three divisions very quickly and has remained a shining example of successful social intranet adoption and engagement. If Legal can do it, so can you!
What's your computer situation... Do you use a Mac or PC (or something else)?
I am a Mac convert (and it's an excellent story.) I still don't like iPhones, but I used to be 100% PC (largely due to the fact that there was a delete AND a backspace)... until I joined Akamai. A lot of the Akamai Helpdesk in Cambridge used to work at Apple, so not only are they Mac fans, but they know more about them. I am friends with most of the wonderful people who work at our Helpdesk and so when my computer blue screened the first time, they made fun of me, but came to my rescue... when it happened the second time (3 months later) they gave me the stink eye and told me that if it happens one more time, they're just taking my computer and giving me a Mac. To prove how serious they were, they provided me with an external hard drive and helped me back up my content just in case. The third blue screen happened when I was at the physical Helpdesk getting something updated for my mobile email and they literally just went in the back room and requisitioned me a Mac. After some OS training and a print out of the shortcuts, I haven't looked back since.
Tell us what you use for your mobile device?
Technically it's a Samsung S5. But I'm not a huge technophile. I use my phone to check and reply to email - both work and personal, scan through social media occasionally (but not regularly, and I rarely post), and do things like call an Uber, deposit a check, or pay a friend for those tickets she bought us. If I left my phone at home, I'd be bummed and would absolutely try to avoid all possibility of an emergency situation, but I would not freak out. Other than for texting (which is pretty much everyone's life blood at this point), It's a convenience more than a necessity.
Pick one word that best describes how you work.
Honestly. I tell it how it is. That might be in regard to what Jive can/can't do for your use case, what I can/can't do for your use case, the fact that I absolutely and totally forgot about the action item I had for you, the fact that I really don't know when the roadmap item will actually be rolling out, the fact that our navigation/training/process is not perfect... you name it. I also treat everyone the same. I don't care if you're an intern or an executive - I'm going to send a quick and thorough reply and give you a straight answer, probably with a little humor in it. People see me as reliable, and I take great pride in that.
I am also honest with myself. If I'm being aggressively unproductive, I'll take a walk or just simply go home. It's of no benefit to anyone for me to stay at my desk and stare blankly at my screen. I also get a lot of credit for replying super quickly to emails; this has nothing to do with how responsive I am and everything to do with the fact that if I don't reply to you right now, I probably never will. I know this about myself and so I work around it. But hey, I'll take the compliments.
Besides Jive, what apps/software/tools can't you live without?
I could not survive (hyperbole, of course) without my Chromecast. I watch A LOT of television. It's usually intelligent, witty, and engaging (no reality tv) with the occasional dumb show thrown in for fun (usually something marketed to teenagers - I'm looking at you, Pretty Little Liars). I don't watch a lot of live television, so I have the smallest cable package that still allows me to watch major sporting events and awards shows. I watch most TV through my parent's online xfinity account, my Hulu account, and my grandmother's Netflix account (sharing is caring) but because of Chromecast, I can watch it on my egregiously large television. TV is one of the things I use to unwind and detach, which is super important within the "always-on" life that all community managers lead, so having this glorious tool to connect me to essentially any show or movie I want to watch is life changing.
Do you have a favorite non-computer gadget?
My wine opener. A) It's an awesome wine opener. All you do is twist and the screw goes into the cork, then you just keep twisting and the cork comes out of the bottle. It's so low effort (without being one of those total cop-out rabbit devices that don't make you feel like you're actually taking part in opening the bottle, which is part of the fun). B) I really, really love wine.
What you surround yourself with is important, what's your work space like?
There are a lot of snacks. Mostly healthy foods (right now I have natural peanut butter, an apple, pretzel crisps, honey, salt (for the hardboiled eggs I bring from home) and 2 boxes of high protein cereal on my desk and a whole drawer full of things like nuts and granola bars). I always have one "live" notebook at hand with my current To-Do list right on top and my set of colorful pens ready for annotations. I have a reusable water bottle with me at all times and usually an empty mug left over from my morning coffee (which I either reuse in the afternoon or throw in our office dishwasher - save the planet!). If I have some extra papers or notes I'm working on, they'll be around as well, but I generally try to recycle any papers when I'm done with them to keep things from getting cluttered. I also always have my 12-month calendar available - even though I have my Outlook calendar for work events and my Google calendar for live events, I still love to write everything down so I know what's going on this week/month in my life. I have a sit to stand desk, which I move up and down multiple times through the day, so I don't keep much on the part of the desk where I'm actually working, which helps with organization as well. One of my walls has lanyards from all the conferences I've been to over the past few years as well as all the work-related cards and thank you notes I've received. There is another wall for personal memorabilia (Bates pennant, Bruins sticker, etc.)
What do you listen to while you work?
Everything. I don't have a go-to work music; it depends on both my mood and the kind of work I'm doing. Usually, listening to music at work either serves to improves my mood or help me get through tedious tasks. Soundtracks are very often in the rotation: Finding Neverland, Hamilton, Moana, Pride & Prejudice, Out of Africa... and I often listen to music to prep for the many, many concerts and shows that I go to (I absolutely love live events... tickets are probably in my top 5 favorite things in the world.
I have a great story where I was listening to Childish Gambino - a particularly not explicit song - and my SVP at the time came up behind me to ask me a question. He startled me and I whipped around in my seat, pulling my headphones out of their jack and blasting very loud, very NSFW rap music to the entire office (at an upstanding Financial institution, no less). It was HILARIOUS.
What's your best time-saving trick?
Short, simple, no frills videos. There are always things that we just keep explaining over and over again, and which usually need to be demonstrated to be understood, so I suggest creating simple videos - just screen recordings with voiceovers that you record in one take like you're doing a live demo (and if you mess up, don't worry about it - just go with it... like a live demo). Write down a bunch of topics (how to edit the home page, how to use the Document Viewer tile, how to add images and make them links to create basic buttons, how to use the Table of Contents feature, how to use quick search, how to add a bio to your profile... I could go on), go into a quiet room and just bang out a bunch of videos (never longer than 3 minutes, try for 30-60s). Then you can just point to them instead of scheduling a demo session with someone.
How do you balance work and life?
I follow the yin-yang theory for work/life integration. There's a little bit of personal in the work and a little bit of work in the personal, and that's totally fine. Do I need to call my hairdresser during the work day or take a 10 minute break to do some apartment hunting? Totally fine. Do I want to finish a deck in the evening while watching TV or check in before bed to make sure users in other time zones get answers at a convenient hour? Totally fine. Some people are big on drawing a line and having work stay at work, but I would rather bring my life to work and allow some flexibility for my work to flow into my life.
What's your sleep routine like?
I require a lot of sleep... and I make sure I get it. I've always been a fan of sleep and do my best to make sure I'm getting 7-8 hours a day over the course of a week. This means that if I have a 5 hour night, for whatever reason, I will take a nap later in the day or have a 10 hour night on the weekend to catch back up. I try to be in bed by 10:30 and asleep by 11/11:30 (usually depending on how good my book is). Wake-up is usually between 6:30 and 7:30. I like to have a decent amount of time in the morning to ease into my day, make breakfast, pack lunch, etc. but I also have PTSD from my years as a competitive rower and cannot stand to see anything earlier than 6 on my alarm clock in the morning. I exercise regularly, so sleep is especially important for rest and recovery. I also make sure to drink water right before bed and right when I wake up. I'm really big on hydrating.
Are you more of an introvert, ambivert or extrovert?
Ambivert, with a strong lean towards extrovert. Essentially, I am an extrovert 90% of the time, but when I become an introvert, I go FULL introvert. My personality means that I'm "on" all the time and that isn't sustainable for too long, so I have bouts where I need to totally disconnect. I sustain throughout the week by watching TV... a lot of TV... and reading, using that time to escape into other worlds for a while, but I also try to take self care days about once a month to make sure I reset my batteries.
What's the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?
Be curious, not judgmental. This is probably the most valuable sentence in my life. It's very personal and introspective; if you are stressed or upset or running at a lower speed than usual, be curious about that - What might be going on? What can you do to support yourself? - instead of getting upset with yourself for being totally normal. (Everyone gets stressed. Everyone has bad days.) You don't need to have the answer to why you're feeling the things you're feeling; not all emotions come from something specific. The important thing is to be open to the fact that something is happening and not judge yourself with "I should" or "I shouldn't" statements. For example, if you wake up in the morning and are just dead to the world, be curious... "Am I sick? Am I burnt out? Do I just need another hour of sleep? Do I need a mental health day? What's best for my self care?" instead of judgmental... "Why can't I manage my time better? I can't afford to take an extra hour to sleep! If I work from home and don't have a good excuse, people will think less of me."
Real talk, I got this gem from a therapist. Mental health is just as important as physical health and going to therapy or needing therapy is nothing to be ashamed of.
Thank you Kirsten for your open, honest and funny interview. It was great getting to know you more! Thanks for being awesome!