It’s Not Easy Being Green: A Millennial’s Guide to Leadership

Big news, guys. This month marked my first ever work anniversary. There was blood, sweat, and more tears than I’d care to admit, but here I am, one year after signing onto my role as Intelligent.ly’s Content & Community Specialist. For most seasoned professionals, this is no magnificent feat, but my fellow Millennials (and Kermit the Frog) know that it’s not easy being green.

If television has taught me anything, it’s that most 23-year old Communication Studies majors are doomed for years of frustration and debt before having a job they love. I was one of the lucky ones, I guess. In hindsight, before joining Intelligent.ly, I was naive to the monumental importance of leadership. The simple truth is leadership can’t be taught in college; it’s learned from experience – and many of us don’t get direct access to learn from strong leaders early on in our careers.

After 31 Exchange sessions, 2 EMERGE workshops, and an endless supply of leadership inspiration from the Boston community, I’m by no means a guru. But I have learned a thing or two about what makes organizations and teams successful from 500 people across 50 startups:

Know yourself: This is Day 1 of Exchange, and it’s critical for us youngsters. In a sea of resumes, self-awareness can be the thing that sets you apart from the pack (Whitney Johnson calls this the “competitive advantage”). Knowing your strengths and your weaknesses will allow you to find areas you can really shine, and generate baselines for meaningful growth. It also helps to know how you like to be communicated with, and what truly motivates you.

And, know your team: We spend so much time working that our teams become like our families. To keep frustrations low and productivity high, it’s important to know what each member loves, makes them tick, and how they learn best. So many lapses in productivity are caused by miscommunication. Ask each member what they need from you, in terms of communication. You can use this blueprint to share each other’s quirks!

Conflict is good: Startup life can be emotionally taxing, and conflict is inevitable. Create an open environment with your team by being vulnerable, sharing your challenges, and consequently creating trust to ensure healthy conflict. This means everyone’s perspective is valued and team members are open to growth.

Ask for help: Spoiler alert: at 23, I still don’t have all the answers. And that’s okay. No one expects you to. Give yourself a break, and lean on others for advice and best practices. Our program, participants and guest speakers alike talk about the importance of having a meaningful network. At Exchange, we have participating managers ask their peers for advice. Create your own web of trusted individuals you can ask for help, and learn from them.

Lack of experience ≠ lack of leadership: This one was an eye-opener for me. I spent months diminishing my own opinions, firmly believing that those with more experience knew better. I’m still working on it, but I’m slowly learning that you can be a leader…even if you were born in the ‘90s. You were hired for a reason, and your opinion matters, if nothing else to provide a new perspective.

Create your own path: What I love about my role at Intelligent.ly is that it’s not set in stone. I’m young; I don’t know what I want yet. I have no 5-year plan. And startups are the perfect place for that. My role (and yours) can become whatever you want it to be, if you prove you’re worthy of the reward.

The Best Is Yet To Come

One year ago, I joined the Intelligent.ly team because I was excited to help build an organization that helps companies invest in their most important asset – their PEOPLE.

And in just over 12 months, we’re thrilled to have hit some serious milestones, witnessed just how meaningful it is for companies to show their employees they’re invested in their success, and discovered a real hunger for learning at all levels of of the startups we’ve served.

Here are just a few of our major wins from the last 365 days:

  • Enrolled 135 managers in Intelligent.ly Exchange, our program that helps new managers be great managers.
  • Helped 27 startups build a pipeline of talent with Exchange (see the full list here).
  • Created relationships with our venue hosts and fellow community builders: WeWork, MassChallenge, District Hall, and CIC Boston.
  • Hired a Content & Community Specialist to help us do more, faster.
  • Launched our Leadership + Libations event series to bring our community together to learn from some of our city’s best.

And, now…drumroll, please…

Please help me welcome Gabriela McManus, our new Director of Learning & Development!

AGabriela McManus New England native, Gabriela has focused her career on strategically building a leadership bench inside hyper-growth companies. Three years ago she entered the tech community by joining the inaugural people team at Infusionsoft (#13 Fortune Best Medium-sized Companies to Work For) to build their flagship Leadership Academy and much more in Arizona. She returned to the Northeast with her family in 2014 and is ready to drive Boston’s talent forward!

Gabriela knows what it takes to attract, retain, train and develop PEOPLE in high growth companies and is already hitting the ground running, ready to lead our seventh Exchange program in June. As we continue to grow, Gabriela will help identify and develop new program opportunities to help our partners win at every level.

Spoiler alert: stay tuned for more about EMERGE, a new one-day conference this July for individual contributors to learn ‘A-player’ leadership skills.

More to come about what’s on deck from Gabriela soon!

Exchange Grads: Exchange, On!

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Completing 55+ hours of management development on top of demanding jobs is no small feat!

On Monday night, we celebrated the fourth graduating class of Intelligent.ly Exchange – our leadership program – with participants from WordStream, Grasshopper, CitiCenter, Smarterer, Intrepid Pursuits, Raizlabs, HubSpot, and TurningArt.

Exchange Program 4 PhotoThroughout the six full-day Exchange sessions, managers developed key leadership behaviors, learned new management tactics, and created close peer relationships to take their skills to the next level. From digging deep to realize their unique growth opportunities, to supporting each other’s goals along the way, this group truly excelled together.

Putting a fiscal value on organizational health is hard to do, which sadly often leads companies to wait too long to invest in their high-potential new managers. Emerging leaders are invaluable, and more often than not, the skills that make a great leader – assertiveness, ability to motivate, and make decisions – need to be cultivated to truly flourish.

“Exchange is the best thing to happen to me professionally.”

The managers who joined this Exchange class are people who motivate and empower their teams, confidently making decisions and facilitating company growth. Today, we’re confident that these new Exchange grads have become true leaders and we can’t wait to see what they achieve next in their companies.

So, congratulations to Program 4–your dedication to becoming more effective leaders has truly impressed us, and we encourage you to take the tools you’ve learned and continue applying them in your everyday lives. Keep on Exchanging!

Exchange Program 4 Companies

 

Say hello to our new Content & Community Specialist!

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It’s not every day you see a personal statement accompany a resume. Especially not from recent college grads. But Rachel’s did, so we took notice. And it didn’t take long for her calm confidence, witty remarks, and marketing smarts to win us over.

Although new to the startup world, Rachel’s desire to create is not. She was a communications and PR major at Northeastern University and completed co-ops at EF Education, Kravet, and the Improv Asylum, expanding each role she undertook.

Rachel will be sharing success stories and speaker insights from Intelligent.ly Exchange– our management development program- often, so stay tuned!

Give @rachelwaldmann a shoutout or email her at rachel@intelligent.ly.

Abbie Waite
@abbottwaite

Hello, Intelligent.ly!

Boston’s startupRachel Waldmann community thrills me. I applied for dozens of roles across so many interesting companies in Boston before I accepted the role as Intelligent.ly’s Content & Community Specialist. I love that startups achieve big goals with dedicated, passionate teams and the work hard, play hard attitude has always been so quintessentially me.

After my first meeting with Abbie Waite, I went home to my roommates and told them I interviewed with a non-arrogant version of Gwyneth Paltrow–she was approachable, compassionate, blonde, and had me hooked with her passion for helping people lead, to win. When I learned about how Intelligent.ly Exchange solves the management gap that even I, a recent college grad, have experienced already in my career, I wanted IN!

In my new role at Intelligent.ly, I’ll be coordinating Intelligent.ly Exchange, sharing success stories and leadership insights on our blog, planning community events, and hopefully meeting many of you in person very soon!

Iggy WigglesSome fun facts about me: I’m from Long Island, I graduated from Northeastern last May, I volunteer with the MSPCA-Angell animal shelter, I have a pet hedgehog named Iggy (he’s a monster), I studied abroad in Prague, and my spirit animal is Liz Lemon. People always expect me to be taller when they meet me.

I’m passionate about content creation, visual design, and event planning, and am psyched to hone all of these skills at my new Intelligent.ly job (I love saying it…”my new job”).

But enough about me. I can’t wait to learn about you!

Rachel Waldmann

Rachel Waldmann
Content & Community Specialist
@rachelwaldmann