They say startups age employees in dog years, but we suspect everyone has been doing double time since the outset of the pandemic back in 2020. Things have been consistently weird and occasionally disturbing, #amIrite?
We're revisiting an interview with Steven Newman in 2021 while he was the Senior Director of Revenue Operations at Logikull. Since then, he founded RevOps Wizards and started a position as the Director of Global Revenue Operations at Trackforce Valiant + TrackTik. He shared his thoughts about establishing work-life balance in the hectic world of RevOps, and these nuggets of wisdom still apply in today's diSaaSter of a market.
Changing jobs during a pandemic isn't necessarily easy, but it was the right move for Steven Newman in September of 2021 when he accepted the Director of RevOps position with Logikcull. We caught him a few months in while he was still in the midst of figuring out how to juggle family, getting to know coworkers, and appeasing a cat that pulls the diva card when he's on Zoom.
So, who seeks out a new position when there's a new baby and a pandemic still in full swing?
"I was not actively looking for a new role. Russell [Sachs], our CRO and who I report to now, had reached out to me in June," he says. "I decided to hear him out because I didn't know what Logikcull eDiscovery was. I just knew it was legal tech, and legal tech is a booming space. I think it's where fintech was five to 10 years ago."
Managing expectations is a tricky thing to do in revenue operations under the best of circumstances. We're in a profession people don't understand, and it's human nature for anyone to assume that their personal priorities are THE priority. It's often a disappointment when we break it to our stakeholders that they need to wait a couple of weeks before that ("simple") approval process (they hoped to roll out tomorrow) is implemented.
Juggling priorities and communicating timelines is a normal part of the job. Add in some profound life changes, and it becomes more important than ever to establish boundaries before day one in a new company.
Only a couple of months before Steven joined Logikcull, he and his wife welcomed their second child. With his wife returning to work and his youngest in daycare, he felt he would have more time to spare. But even those of us with childcare know that infants and toddlers have different sleeping patterns than we do… or each other… and it varies daily!
During the interview process, he was conscious of managing expectations on both sides regarding what success would look like.
Remote work has provided a lot of flexibility for many people, although there are still a few holdouts insisting that workers return full-time. Many of us prefer the flexibility remote work gives us, and who misses commuting? There are plenty of pros. And cons.
We'd be remiss in not pointing out a large drawback.
Many people blurred the lines between home and work well before the pandemic. Smartphones gave us a 24/7 connection to the office, many of us worked through meal times, laptops meant we could sneak in some work after getting the kids to bed or use the weekend to finalize the latest board report, and WiFi on public transit meant traffic no longer delayed our start to the work day.
Many suspect the pandemic sped up a semi-remote culture in SaaS that was already on the horizon. People who used to eat at their desks in an office now shove pieces of toast in their mouths on Zoom (hopefully with the video off 😀). A work text, email, or Slack at 9 PM asking for a quick chat no longer seems so outrageous. That "always on" work style that tech executives popularized is still considered the norm.
Boundaries, breaks, and family time are the key for Steven.
"I was working from home four days a week before the pandemic started, so it wasn't much of an adjustment," he says. "I'm an early riser, and I'm up most of the night anyway. I think working from home gives you that flexibility."
He gets going at about 7 or 8 in the morning and preps his four-year-old daughter for daycare while cleaning up emails or catching up on Slack. At about noon, the meetings start.
We've all sat in the meeting that could have been a quick Slack exchange.
"I'm a big proponent of not having meetings just to have meetings. I think most things can be taken care of in a Slack conversation unless business decisions need to be made," he says. "Slacks and emails are definitely tools to utilize."
But with all that tech, how do people get to know their coworkers?
Steven recommended attending the in-person events you can and making up the difference with informal online group time.
Innovative entrepreneurs expanded their target market by taking their trade online. Paint and sip concepts used to be an in-studio affair, but now businesses mail kits before the scheduled happy hour, and coworkers can meet from anywhere. Chefs have embraced an online setup to teach classes, wine or whiskey tastings can take place over Zoom, and Subskribe, a RevOps Co-op partner, recently facilitated a brunch and learn with stroopwafels and coffee.
Anyone can find creative ways to bond with coworkers in a virtual setting.
Logikcull hosted in-person events with functional teams, like the go-to-market team and company-wide get-togethers. Between those in-person events, the go-to-market teams met up on apps, like Gather, where you can belly-up to the bar – at least virtually.
"I think being in a cross-functional role like this makes it easier," he says. "You're always tasked with building the relationships with not just the stakeholders within each department, but the individual contributors within the departments."
Having conversations with the people doing the work is essential to Steven. It's a priority to talk to those who, in turn, speak to the customers.
"Having ever-evolving communication with them is how I stay up to date," he says. "We utilize Zoom. But we get Zoomed out. We do have another video tool where you can make happy hours in a virtual space, and everyone can move around the bar."
Employees can wander around and join different conversations in this less formal app. Even teetotallers who don't drink can play along in that kind of environment.
We can't emphasize how vital networking is to maintain relationships and build careers. However, there are many opportunities to bond with coworkers over shared projects. Listening to salespeople vent about how much they hate the CRM and then doing something to fix it helps demonstrate that RevOps hears and cares about their pain – even if it's something small. Delivering key reports that help answer a question someone asks aloud in a meeting demonstrates that someone (you) is listening.
Ultimately, humans want to feel heard. Loneliness has been called the next epidemic, and we can all look for ways to validate the people around us and make them feel seen.
Steven says his secret is knowing any project's key deliverables, having an agreed-upon deadline, and working towards them. He also recognizes that taking a new RevOps role means engaging in an internal discovery process to identify gaps in the Buyer Journey – whether it's analyzing the handoff from marketing to sales, taking a look at how CS handles new cases, or helping set up Executive reports on data that previously wasn't being communicated to them. There's always something to build, change, or manage better. This might be explored through email, Slack, or even more meetings.
Ultimately, the key to surviving and thriving in revenue operations is prioritization. If we can't have clear priorities and feel some autonomy in defining our role, burnout is lurking around the corner.
"For the last three months, it's been a lot of back-to-back meetings," he says. "Once that morning work is cleaned up, from noon to five or noon to six, it's meetings."
He pauses for family time after those late afternoon or early evening meetings. When the kids go to bed, Steven returns to work, clearing up the last of the emails and responding to people. There's a lot of "checking in" with the team and confirming deliverables are on track at the end of the day.
He's also spent a lot of time cleaning and standardizing data. With that clean data, there can be meetings on the sales side focused on building a stronger outbound motion, for example. Clean and standardized data is the foundation through which all teams can analyze themselves and identify areas of improvement. Without it, you could be pointed in the wrong direction and not even realize until it's too late.
"My days are much more flexible since they're based on the deliverables and meeting those," he explains when comparing his job to his wife's (who returned to work a couple of months into Steven's new job). "Being able to put a block on my calendar to pick up the kids and then returning in the evening really adds to that. I don't like to say work/life balance; it's more like work/life integration."
As if he didn't have enough on his plate, Steven enjoys sporting events, and his office is full of sports memorabilia. He also does consulting work on the side. And just because he doesn't need sleep, he completed his Harvard Business Analytics degree at about the same time he was juggling all of these changes.
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