Commitments: Help Utah Female Professionals Succeed


Recently, my friend pointed me toward an article in the recent Utah Business magazine that gave the facts on the employment of women and men in Utah and their current wages.  The data was sourced to the U.S. Census Bureau 2008 – 2012 American Community Survey.  And, it made me sad.  Out of just over 1.2 million employed, civilian workers females made up 44.4% of the workforce and earned a median $20,053 per year (compared to males at $39,880).

In doing some follow up research, I got a lot more sad at the current state of affairs in Utah for female professionals.  It ultimately makes me worried for my daughter, wanting to figure out a way to help her lean to navigate the workforce reality.  USA Today stated in a recent article that Utah is the #1 worst state for women.  The methodology for their rating looks at wage gap, women in private company leadership, women in state legislature, poverty rate and infant mortality rate.  The article even noted that in Utah, women are holding less than 1 in 3 management positions.

I have been a resident of Utah for about 10 of the last 13 years.  I never thought I would live in Utah.  I met Jon at a wedding in Ohio, and I vividly remember him telling me he lived in Utah.  Utah?  I knew California, Las Vegas, Yellowstone and the Colorado rockies, but Utah?  Weren’t people from Utah either Mormon or ski bums?  Jon didn’t seem like either when I met him, so I went with it.  I was simply a love-struck 20 something, wondering more about where our next date weekend would be than the state of the workforce for female professionals.  I ultimately moved here, have fallen in love with the place, and have led about half of my 16 year career in the state.

Now, I consider myself a Utah local, a professional woman, and one of the apparently few female company executives in the state. I sit here thinking about how my role as a female executive can help drive change.  It is ironic to think this way, because I rarely, if ever, think about being a woman at work.  Over the years, I have come to work, tried my hardest to succeed every day, looked for opportunities to stretch myself, learned a lot, and ultimately tried not to take no for an answer.  By not defining myself using my gender, I have never seen professional boundaries.  This boundary-less world view has by its definition opened up my eyes to opportunities that I would otherwise never have seen.

I want to help, and take a purposeful role in making the future better in Utah for women.  But, I feel stuck.  Due to the fact that I am a working mother of two, and have the job that I have, I have little time to give to anything beyond my family and my job.  I feel guilty and sad to see this state of affairs and not be able to give more to help change it.  That said, this reality I live in of having to forcefully prioritize the time that I have, has been one of the things that has made me successful over the years.  So, my game plan is to help in the way my schedule and life allow.  I figured writing down a few commitments would help me to remember to stay accountable.

  • Raising strong-willed, independent children with Jon who see professional women as the norm;
  • Helping people in my team succeed as female professionals (in particular working moms);
  • Continue building a culture at CHG Healthcare where it is possible to be a successful working mom and a working dad;
  • Mentor people whenever I can find a spare moment helping to guide them through the choices that they need to make;
  • And, most importantly, never give up on my own dreams.  Shape them to be what I want them to be, not what others think is the right answer.

A short but important list that will hopefully help make a difference.

Time Study: How Do I Become More Productive?

I have been doing a little study of the way I run my calendar and how it correlates to my productivity and my energy level.  For the last eight weeks, I have been making notes throughout the week on my calendar relative to my feeling of productivity, how much energy I leave the office with to bring home to my family, and how effective I feel like I am as a coach and leader of my team. This week I looked back at the notes, and my calendar the days I took the notes, and decided to see what I could learn.

Some interesting facts:

  • I average 45 meetings per week.  Roughly 70% of these appointments are one to one coaching/status meetings with individuals, primarily in my marketing and sales team.
  • Although this pace sounds like it would drive most people crazy, it doesn’t stress me out.  It does stress my assistant out (who has to work to squeeze it all in).  This makes me chuckle because although I know maintaining the calendar is stressful, it shouldn’t stress her out more than me.  I am the one who actually has to live it!!
  • The highest number of meetings within a single week over the last eight weeks was 56 (ugh!).  And, that was the worst week of the bunch.  I ended up getting sick that week.  Don’t know if it was due to my over scheduling and lack of energy, or my kids bringing home daycare germs (or likely some combo of the two).  The thing I can say is that I don’t want another week like this any time soon.
  • The weeks that I have around 35 meetings or less, I feel like I am at least twice as effective in helping my team and feel generally happier with my life at home with my family.
  • If I add 30-90 minute breaks throughout the day (between meetings) it helps me a ton in replenishing my energy and creativity.  The best weeks are those where I have a Friday that has at least 2-3 hours of open time to clean up from the week, and a Monday morning with at least an hour of schedule planning time to prep myself.
  • Confirmed….it does take a lot of energy!

One of the more interesting observations during this not-so-scientific study was about how my calendar gives a good lens into my priorities.  My time is allocated on my work calendar where I place my priorities.  In the first two weeks of my study, I realized that I was spending too much time in technology meetings.  Although technology is important, and marketing technology is ever changing, did I really need 5+ hours a week regarding this topic?  Easy answer = no.  So, I adjusted my calendar (and thus my priorities) and changed it to about 1-2 hours a week.  I know that this may seem like a simple realization, but sometimes we get so busy “doing” the calendar that we lose site of “planning” our time.

On the bright side, I learned that I am pretty good at this, likely by necessity.  Ever since I have had kids, my ability to accomplish things in the time windows that I have (such as this 15 minutes I have to finish this blog post!), has ramped significantly.  There is simply more to do than there is time, so I must be productive and decisive.  I actively review my calendar daily looking ahead 3-5 days to make sure my time is scheduled where I want it to be, and where it can produce the most effective results.  I know that this may sound pretty obvious, but so many people on my team (and others I work with), don’t do this effectively.  Because of this lack of planning their time, they get sucked into things on their calendar that have low return on time (ROT – should I brand this?).

So for tonight, as I prep for the week ahead, changing my calendar around to create those 30 minute windows of time in my calendar to build energy and creativity, I figured I would share this with all of you.  I hope that it helps someone else become a little more effective, or at least not stress about what lies ahead.

Commitments: Continue To Grow As A Leader

I have had one of the hardest weeks of work in my career this week.  It has caused me to look internally, and to evaluate myself in earnest as a leader.  I don’t know what it is about the work issue that made this self evaluation come in, but it made for a few nights of little sleep, a strong need to get my workouts in, and now a need to write a blog about it.  What I have been spending time evaluating is my strength as a leader.  I am good at some things, and not so good at others.

So, here are my top five leadership commitments for 2015:

  1. As a leader, give your time to developing the strengths in others.  As we grow in our career, we are often valued for the individual contributions that we make.  In the transition to a leader, the value you create has less to do with your personal contributions and more to do with your team and what they can deliver.  This shift from an individual contributor to a leader takes time to learn, and forces purposeful reallocation of your time.  Instead of your time being about you and your work, it is about your people.  If you are taking up the majority of your time, or the limelight, your team isn’t, so change it.  Allocate your time to the development of others and you will succeed.
  2. When helping a team member develop, keep the end goal in mind.  Sometimes when you are actively coaching an employee to help them improve, it is easy to get so granular in your coaching that it feels to them like you are unsatisfied with their every move.  Often, you see “your way” as the only way to do something, and your coaching is working to shape their behavior to “your way”.  As the leader, if you focus on the end goal for the individuals development, instead of the specific gaps you see in their daily work, you will bring your feedback in effectively as versus on every small thing that they may be doing differently than “your way”.  And, in the process, you may find new ways.
  3. Listen to truly understand.  Allow your point of view to be molded.  Just because you got to your position of leadership, doesn’t mean that you know everything.  To get the best out of your team, spend your time truly listening to the perspective of your people.  Their practical experiences and creative thinking may bring out a better solution than you ever could have determined on your own.
  4. Focus on alignment.  Being misaligned, particularly on some of the most fundamental things in your business, is a poison.  When I say alignment, I mean alignment upward within your organization, sideways, and downward to your direct reports.   Your job as a leader is to bring things into alignment to drive the most effective results.
  5. Recognize when you are in over your head.  Every leader, and every employee in an organization, gets in over their head at some point.  It is inevitable in a changing workplace and helps us to grow and stretch.  The key is to recognize it, accept it, and deal with it by building capability around you.  You show strength by giving in to this, and partnering with people around you to develop a solution.

My commitment for the week has less to do with this week, and more to do with the next year and beyond.  Based on what I learned in my hard week at work, it is even more important.  I commit to continue to grow as an individual and as a leader in the hopes that it helps those around me.

Taking the Downside Out of Determination

Never give up

The other day when Katharine was working on a puzzle she leaned over to me and said, “Mom, this is a hard one.” She continued to stay determined to accomplish the puzzle as a good Stock/Snavely would. A few minutes later…”Mom, we never give up do we?”  Proud mommy moment.  She knew it was hard, but was willing to put the effort in to learn and accomplish what she set out to do.  Jon and I pride ourselves in building a life based on working hard and not giving up on our goals.  This moment of hearing her echo our behavior in her words helped me to appreciate how early we either learn or don’t learn this in our lives.

Then, I start to freak out.  Am I being too ambitious as a parent?  All I want to do is to teach our kids that they are in control of their lives.  I hope for their ability to be determined, positive and committed to what they want in their lives.  I hope that they can solve the problems that they encounter.  I also want them to know that trying is all we ask of them, not necessarily succeeding and delivering a perfect outcome.

As I reflect on what made me a “never give up” person, I do worry about the downside of being determined.  Much of my determination came from a desire to be perfect.  This desire to be perfect, whether it was because I wanted to please others or just for myself, often times turned my determination into stress.  Today, this drive for perfection has diminished a great deal – mostly due to the fact that I know it isn’t possible.  That said, the perfectionist behavior rears its ugly head frequently.  When it does, I generally try to turn the perfectionist behavior into the problem and work to channel my “never give up” skills into solving that problem.

So, although I am proud of what Katharine (and Matthew) are learning, I certainly hope their journey as determined kiddos and ultimately adults is also met with an acceptance and enjoyment of the moments in which they live.  For them to learn this, Jon and I have to show them it is possible.  Whether it be taking a random afternoon nap, having an evening dance party together, playing hooky from school every so often, or just reading a book on a snowy weekend morning, I am going to teach them through how I live how having the determination to meet your goals and living in the moment are not opposites of each other.

Commitments: Let the Game Come To You

Throughout my career, one of the most helpful pieces of feedback I have received is to “let it come to you.”  My first boss, Joe Haynes, gave me this advice.  I don’t know the origin of the phrase officially, but most often I have heard it used in sports…”let the game come to you.”  About a year ago, after an incident at my current job where I wish I would have applied this feedback, I decided to research a little bit more about this phrase.

One of the articles that I read was a review of Phil Jackson’s book Eleven Rings:  The Soul of Success.  In the review it explained Jackson’s characterization of Michael Jordan’s play.  He described Jordan’s ability to lay back when he wasn’t on his game, and to not force it.  Jordan had a deep confidence in his ability, and he never felt as if he had to prove his greatness.  This was contrasted to Kobe Bryant, who although a tremendous player, pushed hard even when he wasn’t on his game or when the defense had him.

“Jordan was also more naturally inclined to let the game come to him and not overplay his hand, whereas Kobe tends to force the action, especially when the game isn’t going his way. When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns. Michael, on the other hand, would shift his attention to defense or passing or setting screens to help the team win the game.”  – Phil Jackson

In my career, I have always been the young one, feeling like the underdog.  I remember celebrating turning thirty professionally.  I felt like I no longer had to explain away my lack of years in life.  For some reason being the young one at the table made me feel like I had to go above and beyond to prove myself and build respect.  I would put the pressure on myself to be good all the time.  When things went wrong, I would overextend myself, giving more than was reasonable and trying too hard.  Let’s call it the Kobe Bryant model.  In hindsight, these moments were times that I should have just backed down…”letting the game come to me.”  This personal reaction, driven often times by a lack of confidence, often hurt more than it helped.

Today, looking back, I am grateful for these experiences as they have helped me to be a better professional, leader and coach to my team.  I have a renewed commitment to “let the game come to me” and to help develop this skill in my team.  Thanks Phil.

Marketing Plan Choices: What Do You Recommend?


Do you recommend we invest in additional lead generation or shift our marketing mix towards brand awareness spend?  In just the last week, I heard or participated in this discussion at least 5-6 times within my team as we put together our marketing plans and budgets for 2015.  Although our operationally-focused company has a conceptual belief in building name recognition, our willingness to do things that build awareness, particularly things that cost money, is limited.  One of our company strengths is that we invest in marketing (and other programs) and focus on measuring their success with a laser-like focus.  The good…It brings an attention to execution excellence that is outstanding.  The downside, it often brings a lack of focus on long-term choices which cannot be simply measured.  The implication of this is those long-term choices often get put on the back burner in our plan recommendations.

It takes me back to my days as a P&G junior marketer, and the introduction of marketing mix modeling (MMM).  I don’t know when this process first took hold at P&G, but my first exposure to them was in 2003 when we were trying to effectively plan our multimillion dollar marketing budget and identify the right balance between advertising and trade spend.  At the time, retailer influence was growing dramatically, and the only way to afford the trade spend and price promotions being requested was to cut our television and print spend.  Was this the right plan?  If you looked at the traditional media metrics of reach, frequency, GRPs and TRPs there was no way to spread our message more efficiently than with these marketing choices.  As brand managers had a fundamental belief that investing in this media helped drive the effectiveness of our customer promotions (price promotions, coupons, displays at retail, etc.).  Our sales partners, and our retail buyers didn’t necessarily share this belief.  The beginning of MMM was an attempt to not only guide our decisions, but reinforce to these other important constituents how all of these pieces worked together to drive revenue.

As with anything, the results of this effort were only as good as the information and effort that was put into the tool, as well as how effectively we interpreted the outputs.  I don’t know if we ever reached the goal of driving cross-functional alignment to our marketing choices, but we did learn a lot.  At the core, we learned that all of our marketing choices helped make the others more effective….that in a perfect world we would run in all parts of our marketing mix simultaneously as this created the best revenue results.

Since then, the progress in both the modeling and the marketing analytics industries has been substantial, as has the shift to digital media.  About a year ago, the Council for Research Effectiveness published a whitepaper regarding the state of MMM.  Don’t read this one unless you are ready to geek out.  As I think about the conclusions in this analysis, one particular thing comes to mind:  no modeling, no analytics, no measurement of return-on-investment works without applying our human instinct to interpret the analysis.  We are often stuck believing that the “data will tell us something.” My experience is that although true, the data will tell you something, applying experienced-based reason and intuition is the critical step to turning data into something that drives the business.

This brings us back to the fundamental question for our marketing plan next year…should we invest in additional brand awareness spend (media and content) as a part of our marketing mix?  Smaller companies, like CHG Healthcare, don’t have the budgets to invest in sophisticated models such as those P&G put together, yet we still need to to make decisions regarding our budget and marketing plan choices.  So, my recommendation as we work to put together our recommendations for next year is spend time in the modeling, in the data and analytics, but to more importantly apply your reason and intuition and recommend what you believe to be the best plan to grow our business.