WHO SHE IS: Diane Flynn, Chief Marketing Officer, GSVlabs
LOCATION: Redwood City, Calif.
SUCCESS STORY: Boosted occupancy at GSVLabs, a tech accelerator, from 35% to 100% in less than a year and developed the ReBoot Accelerator for Women interested in rejoining the workforce.
WORK SCHEDULE: Full-time (Typically 8-6 in office with much time on email in evenings and weekends, but flexible enough to still make it to most of my son’s games and events.)
KIDS: Lisa, 23, Christine, 20, & Matthew, 14
SANITY VICE: Taking long walks to clear my head, promote creative thinking, and help me achieve my 10,000 steps/day.
RECENT SMART READ: 18 Minutes: Find your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman.
BEST TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP: When you need to be on a call, grab a headset and go for a walk. Fresh air, exercise, and productivity all in one!
GO-TO TECH: Definitely Evernote. I put literally everything in there so I now lead a nearly paperless life. I store receipts, articles, book summaries, packing lists, medical reports, eyeglass prescriptions, favorite quotes, meeting notes, orthodontic pictures of my kids–just about anything that used to exist on a piece of paper!
BETTER WAY TO SAY WORK-LIFE BALANCE? I just try to live in the moment. When I’m at work, I focus on that. When I’m with my kids and husband, I do my best to stay present. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to make it all work.
Five Questions for Diane
1. You took a long break to be with your children and now are running marketing for an accelerator. How did you get the role?
My husband was interim CEO of GSVlabs and asked if I’d help with marketing. I said I would give 25 hours/week. As time went on, I realized how energized I felt having this daily responsibility and working with the incredible team we brought on board. Since I was essentially working full-time (I think part-time is often a myth), I decided to make it official and become a permanent employee. I felt it was also important to signal my commitment to the rest of the team.
2. It’s funny how life works this way! When your husband came to you with the opportunity, had you been looking for work or thinking about a return?
Not at all! I have been working part-time with Stanford Children’s Hospital these past 14 years, and along with some boards and volunteer activities at school, I was adequately engaged. I initially resisted taking on 25 hours/week, thinking it would infringe on my other commitments and interests. While I’ve had to cut back at Stanford Children’s Health somewhat, I’ve found these outside involvements and connections enrich the experience and perspectives I bring to my job at GSVlabs.
3. How has it been “getting back in”? Are you drawing on your old expertise? What new things have you learned?
During the school year, I had no problem working the hours and adjusting to my new schedule. Now that summer’s here, I’m still working on finding the right balance to enable time with my family. Juggling that has been the greatest challenge, as I’ve prioritized my children for the past 17 years, and now I have to be more creative and intentional about how I do that. I have drawn much on the expertise I developed at Electronic Arts, Stanford Children’s Hospital, and some marketing committees I chair for two boards I’m on. Without these initiatives, it would have been very difficult for me to walk in as CMO. What I’m most challenged by is the role of social media and content marketing as a means of acquiring customers. These didn’t exist last time I worked full-time, so I’ve had to get up to speed in this area. Fortunately, I work side-by-side with some wonderful millennials who patiently help me with tweets, blogs, and managing my shared drive.
4. As part of your role you created a new program at the accelerator designed to help women “reboot” their careers. What are some of the things you’re teaching?
The goal of ReBoot is to get women interested in returning to work current, connected and confident. When I shared the story of my return with friends, I was continually greeted with head-nodding and women expressing interest in doing the same. But because they’ve been out so long, the technology world is brand new and foreign. Many have lost connections with their network and don’t know where to start. And virtually all I spoke with lacked confidence to come back. A fabulous steering committee I assembled of friends I respect deeply helped develop an 8-week curriculum that focuses on skill development, finding your passions and proficiencies, and taking the steps to land your dream job.
5. What are you doing to “work smart” these days?
I mentioned the book “18 Minutes” earlier. As a result of reading that book, I have gained great clarity about what should be my focus each day. By starting each day with my to-do list and ensuring that everything I’m doing is meeting both my topline professional and personal goals, I find it easier to stay on track, work effectively, and say no to items that don’t fit with my longer-term objectives for a rich and rewarding life.
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