The story of Nerdy Organized — how it came to be, what it means, and how it came to be the way I describe myself.
Grab some wine for this one! ????
Let’s begin at the worst place to start: the beginning. The term “nerdy organized” was a phrase I made up to describe myself in my epic failure of an interview for the agency I work at now. Well, I guess it wasn’t an epic failure because I did get the job (and am still there now), but it was one of the worst interview performances of my life. Anyway.
I was being grilled about my digital marketing chops and oh yes, I felt the heat from the flames of that grillage. It was pretty intense. I blurted out that I had attention to detail, knowledge of the industry and terms, blah blah blah, all that stupid crap everyone says about themselves. Then I said I was organized too. I was met with neutral expressions. “Like… really… nerdy organized,” I word barfed next. I meant that I was good at getting shit done. There was light laughter. I managed to breathe for a second.
The term kind of stuck, and I ended up changing my Twitter username to it as a joke. But here I am like two years later, still with it. I even named this weird blog thing after it (only because I have a dumb common name so the only name-based domain left would be MichelleMartin.isplutostillaplanet).
I accepted being “nerdy organized” as part of my identity, my ethos. I clung to this term and made it fit my personality to a T. To me, it means being thorough, industrious, knowledgeable, and above all… super fuckin’ nerdy.
I’m pretty sure that balancing workload is a problem all agencies have – either not enough work, or too much. It’s never just right, is it? Such is the nature of the business, and why it keeps my interest as a dynamic and ever-changing place to be. But sometimes, if you’re on the short end of that stick, it can feel a whole lot like burnout.
Deadlines, overbooking, sudden influx of everyone accepting your quotes… whatever the case may be, you’ve found yourself on Too Much Work island, surrounded by Holy Shit This Sucks sharks circling you. Not to fear. I have just the thing to get you through this tough spell.
It’s called…. WERK.
Just werk it.
Not twerk it. Well, you can… I guess.
Really, having too much business is probably the best problem you could have in your entire life, so just stop complaining and deal with it. Imagine how many companies and people would kill to be in your spot right now? Lots! People facing bankruptcy, companies in danger of having to do layoffs, and so on. And here you are, complaining that you are TOO successful, and TOO in demand, and just can’t seem to catch a break. I mean, really?! Suck it up and get it done. You should be thankful.
It does totally suck when you’re pulling lots of late nights to get stuff done, but in the grand scheme of things, you’re pretty frickin lucky.
I feel ranty this week. Maybe I’m just tired, or didn’t drink enough coffee, or am actually just a total cranky old bitch. But in any case, my ranty-ness is expanding into most aspects of my life. Today I’m ranting about something that happened about 6 months ago, which quite frankly I think we can all agree is clearly the sign of a totally normal, mentally stable individual.
Regardless, I still believe in my rant today, so here goes.
Months ago, I was at a Meetup event downtown. It was about content strategy, and it was a great event. The speaker was engaging and knowledgable and made a ton of excellent points I still remember to this day. The thing that annoyed me came after the actual event, when the talking to other humans part kicked in. For a cranky ass introvert like myself, talking to other humans can sometimes be a challenge.
Not because I don’t like people, but just because I often don’t know what to say. I hate small talk and fake interest in things. Let’s either talk about something mutually interesting or why bother, is how I view networking type events. But it’s also no fun to be sitting around by yourself in a room full of people, so, I make attempts at human connection.
Not every project is going to be stuffed full of rainbows and unicorns. Even with the best of intentions on both sides – agency and client – sometimes things just go awry. Usually it’s due to miscommunication, or not managing client expectations properly. You, the agency, think your scope of work is super clear, but a client sees a different thing, you don’t communicate about it, and you’re unaware their expectations are too high until it becomes an issue and they’re unhappy. Not a good situation.
It’s hard to predict these things a lot of the time. Communication is hard. Agencies think they’re being straightforward, because they say the same terms all the time, but clients may not be familiar with those terms, or with digital processes. They may be afraid to ask questions, or to look unknowledgeable. Of course there’s no shame in asking questions, but who really likes admitting they’re not totally on the ball with what’s going on? Nobody. So things don’t get talked about, time goes by, expectations on both sides slip and then you find yourself where you didn’t want to be: client hell.
I don’t mean this to sound rude, or to snub clients. I love clients! They’re literally the reason I get to do what I love all day, and not have to live in a cardboard box. They make everything possible. And at the end of the day, they pay the bills. I work for each of them, and I keep that in mind constantly. Clients are not the enemy, clients are part of your team. And you can’t blame your client for having the wrong expectations unless you work hard to set realistic ones.
The problem with mismanaged expectations is that they can strike at any time. Even if your project is 90% done and you’re in the home stretch and so far all along everything has been great. Don’t stop communicating, or you might find yourself in hot water.
Today I got up on stage in front of a bunch of people, like a few hundred, and spoke for a bit. It was super nerve-wracking and at first, terrible. I was up there and talking and then thought, “Oh this isn’t so bad,” and looked around. Big mistake. It instantly got a million times worse and I decided not to do that again.
There was a stage thing, and a real podium and microphone and all sorts of shiz like that. And hundreds of pairs of tiny beady little eyes burning holes into my soul. At least I think that’s what they were doing.
I was only speaking for a minute or so, to do a quick promo and introduce the next speaker, but it was the first time I ever got in front of that many people and said anything, so that was pretty cool. I’m proud of myself for doing that and hope that one day I get enough nerve to actually speak at some thing, sometime, for some reason. I have no idea what that would ever be, but who knows where life takes you sometimes.
These days, if you want to check your postal mail but don’t want to get off the couch, there’s probably an app for that. Seems like there’s some easy, quick fix for everything out there, all available for free to 99 cents in the App Store.
Well, these are a few of my favourite apps for getting shit done at work. And when I’m not at work, to record brilliant ideas and things to do when I remember them. Why is it that the best ideas always hit you right before you fall asleep? I used to be like, “Oh yeah I’ll totally remember that one zzzzzzzz” but now I know better, and use these apps to assist my brain… (Actually not really but I am attempting to salvage the lost fragments of my pre-sleeping genius more often.)
LOVE this app. I create notebooks for different clients and add ideas, notes, to-dos and interesting things to send to that client into that notebook.
Evernote is great for keeping stuff because it syncs everywhere, but is a lot quicker to use than Google Drive. You can just open the app, write a note and close it. Done. I also use Evernote as a kind of scrapbook — a place to keep interesting articles or bookmarks for work-related things, for future reading or reference. I use the free version and it seems adequate for me, but their paid plans have more features like offline access and searching within documents.
So I started this blog for unclear purposes really. To explore industry topics, to learn some stuff, to connect with others, to pass the time, who knows. All of the above. I just like to write stuff sometimes, so I’m going with that. But what happens when your boss/bosses find your blog? I think for many people that might be an awkward encounter. Personally I don’t really care. I’m pretty straightforward. I haven’t told anyone about this blog yet, not really sure why. Just testing the waters I suppose. But, if people from my life find it, I don’t care. Other people with weirder blogs than mine might disagree (but if you’re that weird, then you are probably hiding from people in real life too, because you’re a serial killer).
But regardless, there is usually some desire to not look like a total turd in front of one’s manager. So these are the five things that cross your mind when your boss reads your blog.
1. “Oh, you found my blog?”
2. “Did you like it?”
3. “We should never speak of this again.”
4. “Oh, you did like it?”
5. “OK, time to get serious then. So many topics to cover.”
In my work and my personal life, I do a lot of writing. For clients, for this blog, for everything from birthday cards to detailed product reviews on Sephora.com (that shit gets serious, mmkay). Sometimes it can be hard to focus which I’m sure you already know… Phones ringin’, people talkin’, life goin’ on all around you. I have never been someone who enjoyed working with music. I prefer bone-crushing silence. But, finding some great playlists has changed my mind and actually made me more productive I think. Now I see why so many people like working with music (guess I’m late to the Captain Obvious party).
When it comes to music, I love Spotify. I love that it syncs between my iPod, iPhone, car, laptop, work computer… all my playlists and favourite songs, everywhere I go. So I use it almost exclusively now. Here are a few of my favourite zone-out-and-write playlists!