Never be afraid to admit that you don’t have the answer. Learn from the people around you, knowing that everyone has a specialty that can help you expand your own knowledge bank or skill set.”
Kayla Bond is the senior director of content strategy and strategy practice manager at Rockfish Digital , a division of VML that strategizes and develops cutting-edge technologies for brands such as Southwest Airlines, Kimberly-Clark, and Valvoline.
With more than 10 years of content strategy experience, Kayla leads Rockfish’s content strategy practice, including capabilities across e-commerce, social media, web and mobile, and more. Additionally, as the practice manager for Rockfish’s strategy team, she manages intellectual property development and product and process development. Having joined Rockfish’s team in 2011, Kayla also supervises Rockfish’s external communications and public relations.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
I start every day the evening before by looking at my schedule for the next day, mapping out a prioritized plan of how I’m going to tackle my assignments and make it to my meetings when the two often overlap.
In the morning, I give myself time to wake up — I make a cup of tea and a solid breakfast — get myself ready for the day, and then check my email before I head to the office. I intentionally avoid checking my phone when I first wake up so I don’t start my day by focusing on stressful items.
I try to get to the office early every day, which allows me to settle in and mentally prepare to rock ‘n’ roll. I tackle my urgent items first (things that arose overnight, immediate needs from clients, etc.), and then I start working through my to-do list. I cannot stress this enough: Even if you’re normally on top of things, always make a to-do list. It will save you time and trouble in the long run!
Throughout the day, I keep my to-do list updated by checking things off, adding new items, and reprioritizing things as if I’m my own project manager. Some folks work fast, and some excel at producing high-quality, kick-ass work; to do both, you have to manage your time, clear your head, and intentionally focus (and refocus) your mind.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I lock myself in a room with a whiteboard, a large unsweetened iced tea, and the “Lioness” Spotify playlist curated by Literally, Darling.
I start by asking myself a series of questions: Why is this idea important? What business challenge does it solve? Why is it unique? What consumer behavior does it address? I’ll jot those answers in the corner of the whiteboard and use them as my guide.
From there, I get to work mapping out solutions, whether in the form of frameworks, constructs, or timelines. I’ll then take photos, email them to myself, and go back to my desk to document them for review. I never try to document while I’m ideating — it throws off my entire groove.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The evolution of technology and its impact on how consumers conduct their everyday lives. From smartphones and social media to artificial intelligence and the rise of natural language processing, everything we thought we knew about consumer behavior is actively and rapidly evolving.
You know what that means? It means that we have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It means we have to figure it out in real time. And it means that we have to get smarter about not only what we’re measuring, but also how to show the impact of those metrics in a non-binary time in our history.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
I write everything down. I keep a legal pad on my desk for when ideas blossom, and I keep a small forest of Post-its in a drawer to leave notes for myself on my monitor. I also keep a small Moleskine notebook in my bag for ideas or reminders that strike while I’m in the grocery store or on an airplane.
As a businesswoman, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Michael Simmons recently wrote a piece for Quartz about the things that the world’s most successful people do every day. The one that really struck a chord with me was the act of “compound time,” which involves investing time into things that might be less immediately productive but generate greater creativity, energy, and knowledge in the long run.
I’d already been doing this, but I didn’t know what to call it other than “reading time.” It’s the time I set aside each day to keep myself knowledgeable about industry changes, best-in-class work, and psychographic studies on consumer behaviors. In doing so, I ensure I’m focusing on long-term gains rather than simply checking tasks off my to-do list.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow in business?
Never be afraid to admit that you don’t have the answer. Learn from the people around you, knowing that everyone has a specialty that can help you expand your own knowledge bank or skill set.
This is especially true if you manage a team. Focus on hiring people who are wildly intelligent and passionate, help them define their swim lane, and then get out of their way and watch them do something magical.
What is one failure you’ve had, and how did you overcome it?
In the agency world, things move at warp speed. The timelines are tight, the work is challenging, and the competition among agencies is fierce. It can easily become the perfect storm of stress.
In my mid-20s, I thought I had to have all the answers. I thought I had to be a VP before the age of 30 — cue the laugh track. It turns out that my greatest professional strides came after I hit a period of intense burnout. I had no choice but to scale back, slow down, and refocus my goals.
Even though things can still be insanely hectic on occasion, my approach to handling them has evolved based on my experiences of trying to do too many things for too many people and leaving too little time for myself.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
I invested in a new work bag. It’s amazing how much more confidence you have in meetings when you’re feeling polished!
What software and web services do you use?
I work in digital media, so my exposure to digital services and tools is pretty extensive. I’d recommend that small business owners look into Shopify plugins or Amazon Seller Central for selling products quickly and efficiently.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read?
“Gonzo” by Hunter S. Thompson. It’s an excellent narrative on the evolution of journalistic writing and the art of self-contradiction.
Tell us something that’s true that almost no one agrees with you on.
I’m 99 percent sure that Reese’s miniatures have the same amount of peanut butter filling as the regular-sized cups.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Slow down. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now.
What is your favorite quote?
“Dear optimist, pessimist, and realist:
While you guys were arguing about the glass of water, I drank it.
- Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have the answers. You’ll get there eventually.
- Slow down. Be present. Protect your time and your sanity.
- Don’t fear technology. Fear how far you’ll fall behind if you don’t keep up with it.
- Don’t be afraid to think big. If you’re going to fail, fail big. Then, pick yourself up and start over.
- Read “Gonzo” by Hunter S. Thompson.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.