The event 360 blog
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone and Into Uncharted Territory
By: Janelle Banuska, Ann Love, Eileen Barnick, Melanie Toner and Cheryl Stern
At Event 360, we strive to excel and push ourselves both personally and professionally. Recently, several employees moved into new positions within departments and across projects.
We thought it fitting to speak with some of these rock stars and ask them what it’s like going from knowing and nailing your role to having a whole new learning curve. Read on to see what wisdom they had to share as they continue to step outside the box and challenge themselves in their new roles at Event 360.
Programs & Participant Support Manager on MuckFest MS to Account Manager
The learning curve of jumping into a new role, especially one that is a large departure from a job that was comfortable, and more in my wheelhouse, definitely added to the intensity of the job overall. I am now the Account Manager for the Florida AIDS Walk for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Run to Honor Veterans 5K for Disabled American Veterans, and Ride for AIDS Chicago for TPAN.
Job tasks and processes that used to take 30 minutes would take double or triple the time (and energy) to complete, which could and can be overwhelming at times. If I were to quantify the mental energy needed to take on each day from a scale of 1-10, I felt as though I was always operating at an intensity level 10, whereas in my previous position I ebbed and flowed between 6’s and 8’s… maybe the occasional 5 or 9, but really only hitting 10’s on particularly stressful days. While my capacity and knowledge were expanding, I was conscious of what was truly sinking in and made efforts to revisit the things that may not have been due to the speed at which new information was coming in.
My biggest takeaway and what set me up for success was engaging my colleagues, whom I was now interacting with in a project management capacity, to become my mentors. As I am not a Subject Matter Expert in every service we provide, navigating the relationships with the SME’s to ensure I had a broad understanding of their world was pivotal. For instance, Creative Services was a key department involved in my first client scope of work. While I have a general grasp of things like email campaigns, copywriting, and design, I needed to lean on the SME assigned to the project to not only do their great work, but to also answer my many questions and help me acquire a solid, foundational understanding. This was vital to my role, not only for communication back to the client but for the general management of the project, decision-making, etc. Being mindful of my approach, aware of their availability and workload, and grateful for the additional layer of support was deeply important in my relationships with the SME’s. I could not have been the least bit effective in my role without the mentorship!
Susan G. Komen 3-Day Field Marketing Coordinator to Event Planning Manager
A few months ago, I was comfortably ensconced in a job I knew well. As a Susan G. Komen 3-Day local coach, I knew who to talk to. I knew what was coming. I had my routines in place and they served me well. Then, in early March, I found myself in a new position: 3-Day Event Production Manager. The role of EPM is one that I wanted and was excited to begin, but one that presents an entirely different set of challenges, functions on an entirely different timeline, and requires an entirely different set of skills than being a local coach.
The learning curve was, and continues to be, steep. I am fond of saying that I’m still trying to figure out what I don’t know. I have days that feel like one huge win after another and days that make me want to crawl under my favorite blanket and never show my face again. But, every day teaches me something. Every day reminds me that the work I do is important and every day reminds me that I work with the best, most supportive colleagues in the business.
Even on the hardest days, I’m glad I took this leap into a new role. Above all, it’s been energizing and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
Susan G. Komen 3-Day Participant Support Coach to Event Planning Manager
Having been a Participant Support Coach for seven years, I knew all the aspects of my job well. I can truthfully say that I loved my job and was very comfortable doing it. Everything about it had become second nature, like breathing. I was in control, the job had become easy. Why in the world would I ever want to change that? After all, isn’t that what we all want, a nice, easy job?
Perhaps in theory, but what really inspires me are challenges. In March, I accepted a position as an Event Production Manager. It’s a job I had been eyeing for many years. It would be a challenge, something new to learn. However, accepting this position meant stepping out of my comfort zone and putting the training wheels back on. For me, this was huge because I like being in control and knowing what I am doing.
Changing roles has literally meant going from knowing everything to knowing nothing in sixty seconds flat (so much for being in control and knowing what I am doing). The learning curve has been steep and fast, but step by step I am learning. There are days I wonder how many permits you need just to breathe. Other days I marvel at how organized we are at running events.
What I have learned so far, is that like in show business, the event must go on. There isn’t time to worry about what I don’t know yet. With the amazing support of our Event Production team, I am learning and checking things off my list daily. A year from now, I hope and expect to look back on these first few months smiling and thinking, “What was I worried about?” I mean seriously, what could possibly go wrong?
Susan G. Komen 3-Day Crew & Volunteer Coordinator to Event Planning Manager
Over my seven years with Event 360, I’ve held five different positions but they were all within the Participant Acquisition Department. I felt comfortable, confident and knowledgeable in all those roles. I honed skills in new areas from marketing to customer experience so I continued to grow and learn but in a way that felt safe and possible. But this year I transitioned into a new role, in a completely different department with team members I’ve never worked with.
The first few months were overwhelming to say the least. My biggest fear was disappointing my team, my manager and our client. Unsure of how much I didn’t know – you know the feeling of not knowing what you don’t know because you don’t know you even need to know that thing. Learning to manage my workload to meet deadlines and being unsure of how long a task might take have been the most challenging. At times, I find it hard to know what to focus on and for how long before moving to the next task.
This learning curve has forced me to lean on my teammates in a collaborative spirit of how to approach the workload, the mindset change needed to excel, and problem solving. To keep myself from being overwhelmed, I focus on learning one new skill, software or process at a time. I’ve broken up with multitasking. And I’ve created space for asking for help when needed. And striving for excellence in every facet of my work.
Notice I didn’t say perfection. I know this year will have many learnings. I will make mistakes, some that I’ll be able to fix myself and others that will depend on teammates to correct. I’m confident that we’ll all thrive, the client will be pleased and none the wiser and my knowledge will expand in ways I never expected.
Program Manager on Susan G. Komen 3-Day and Washington D.C. Race for the Cure to Brand Manager on MuckFest MS
After spending almost a decade working on events for Susan G. Komen, it was quite the shift to depart the world of pink for the world of… mud. And, though I recognize that leaving a project that I love for a project that I love is nothing if not a first-world problem, there were certainly some bumps and bruises along the way. Taking on a completely new role within the same company you’ve been with for years presents a unique set of challenges: the biggest being the ever-present feeling that you should already know the answers. This one is hard to shake.
When working through the same programs season after season, processes become second nature. You continue to reflect and refine, to hone your skills to avoid the pitfalls of the past. So, when embarking on an entirely different event, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there’s a whole history to the project that you weren’t around for. And there are probably smarter and faster ways to do what you’re doing; but you won’t actually figure them out for at least another year or two. Many learnings from your past projects will translate to your new job, but there will be many that don’t… because every project/client/event is unique.
Thankfully there’s a silver lining: the transition is made easier because of the familiarity of one’s surroundings. While I found myself suddenly working with a different team, we were already friends who had worked together in one capacity or another over the years. So I quickly learned to get over the worry that my questions were dumb and ask them anyway! Frequently and unapologetically tapping into the powerful knowledge base surrounding me has made a world of difference as I navigate through uncharted (for me, anyway) territory. As I grow further into my position, I’ve learned to embrace the things I don’t know as obstacles begging to be overcome. And I know I’m up for the challenge.
As we dive into event season, we look forward to seeing each of these people shine. No doubt they have the drive to learn the ins and outs of their roles, foster new relationships and rise to any challenges they face.