16 Feb Ask the VPs: 4 Questions with Sara Pallas
By Chelsea Hoedl
These days, the LaunchSquad family spans across the country — from San Francisco to Boston and New York, with many of us setting up camp somewhere in the middle. Each office has its own personality, its own unique way of operating and its own beverage of choice (let the beverage battle rage on). But no matter where you go, our offices are filled with passionate and creative people, led by a team of incredibly talented VPs.
As an AE at LSDetroit, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with VP Sara Pallas. And, true to LS form, she’s a fearless leader with some serious PR knowhow. I sat down with Sara to discuss lessons learned, life and what it means to be a part of the LaunchSquad family. The takeaway? Always ask why and never forget the little things.
What do you wish you had known about LaunchSquad when you were first starting out?
I wish I had known the importance of always starting with “why”. It’s the most important thing I’ve learned during my time at LaunchSquad. Particularly when you’re just starting out in this field, it’s very easy to get caught up in one-off emails, chaotic clients and the daily rush of things that need to be done now. (I did just that for my first 6-9 months, then saw the light in large part to great mentors and leaders at the company.) It’s important to always remember to take a step back and always understand why you’re spending time the way you are, why the strategy you’re pursuing makes sense, etc.
Don’t rely on those around you to answer that “why” question. It’s so easy to do that – no matter your role. I always push colleagues to anticipate being asked, “What do you think?” or “Is this a good idea?” and the inevitable follow-up, “Why?” And even if you’re not asked directly, having that framework in the back of your mind allows you to more strategically spend your time, advise clients and stay focused on the bigger picture.
How has your work at LaunchSquad influenced your personal life?
In so many ways. Whether it’s allowing us to work remotely around the holidays and intra-office transfers to generous vacation policies and incredibly flexible parental leave (fun fact: two new babies joined the LaunchSquad family just this month), LaunchSquad values its people above all else. (This is all in addition to regular office happy hours, something called Holiday Week, sports leagues, etc.). And that absolutely impacts people’s lives outside our offices.
In my case, it was the company’s support of my move from San Francisco to work remotely from Michigan where my then-boyfriend’s (and now husband’s) medical residency was located. (Heck, we even decided to open an office here a few years later.) LaunchSquad absolutely recognizes that its people are what make the company great and does whatever it possibly can to support them.
And of course, I’ve also had the luck of not only working with, but creating friendships with many, many people I know I’ll have in my life for many years to come.
Why do “little things” make a big difference in our work?
Oh do they ever. An emphasis on the “little things” is essential no matter your field or position. (Case in point, I stress “little things” in coaching youth basketball, although in that context, it’s much more about setting textbook screens, using an arm bar to dribble in traffic, being the first to a loose ball. You get the idea.)
I believe doing the “little things” can make the difference between good work and great work, and great work and excellent work. And in moving from practical to purpose, it also has to do with this unspoken belief that he job is never done and that there’s always room for improvement. If you’re going home feeling like you accomplished everything you could have possibly done and did it absolutely perfectly, you’re probably doing something wrong.
What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout the years?
Don’t get comfortable. I actually stole this from (our client) American Giant – but I love the message. Being comfortable is overrated, particularly in this industry. I believe everyone makes a choice (whether they know it or not) to either step up to the plate each day or remain in their comfort zone. No one except for you can push you to be better and grow.
Luckily for us, the nature of our industry, the clients with which we partner and rigor of our daily work ensure two days never look the same – and the pace and unpredictability associated also offer up an endless array of opportunities should you choose to take them. I’ve found myself in positions in which I needed to improvise, share bad news, lead important calls without any notice and make an awesome media tour happen with zero news. And while those moments (or late nights) can sometimes be filled with butterflies, sweaty palms and and a tinge of self doubt, they stretch us in ways we often didn’t think possible.
Image c/o: d13yacurqjgara.cloudfront.net