5 Tips for Taking Ownership of Your Career in the New Year

By | Culture, Free Career Advice, Grow Your Career, Healthy Stuff, Professional Development | No Comments

It’s a new year, which means many people are making resolutions and goals in both their personal and professional lives. One thing that has been on my mind lately is taking the reins on my career. I’m fortunate to work for a company whose mission includes providing rewarding careers to team members. In the long run, though, my career growth is up to me. I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have about the companies they work for is that it’s the company’s responsibility to look after their career. But that’s just not true. Sure, a company can provide great growth opportunities, but ultimately it is the team member who has to work at their own career goals and steer their career toward those growth opportunities.

So, how do you take ownership of your career? Here are five ways to start.

#1: Step out of your comfort zone.
One of our CEO’s favorite sayings is “Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” and this is certainly applicable to your career goals. I would not be in my current role if I hadn’t been willing to take a few risks and explore the unfamiliar. My background is in teaching, training, and writing. Though I was able to carry all of this knowledge over into my role as Talent Marketing Manager, I didn’t come from a marketing background. In truth, I did feel a little uncomfortable during the first few months in this role. This discomfort only encouraged me to work harder and has truly benefited me in the long run, allowing me to develop skills and ideas I didn’t think were possible for me.

#2: Speak up.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, if something is bothering you, if you have a differing viewpoint or opinion… speak up. I’m going to be honest – this is something I am still working on. It’s probably something I will continue to work on throughout my career. My team lead often reminds me that she doesn’t know how I feel unless I tell her. Earlier in my career, at a different company, I never felt empowered to voice my opinion, and this has carried over into present day. Fortunately, Daxko is huge on transparency, and team members are encouraged to speak up. I have gained more confidence in expressing my thoughts and even saying “no”. If you’re uncomfortable speaking up in person, try writing it out first. It’s okay to practice what you’re going to say before you actually say it. Of course, sometimes “on the spot” can’t be helped; if you’re in a meeting and you want to express a differing opinion, do it thoughtfully, respectfully, and don’t let someone speak over you until you have finished your thought.

#3: Have a long-term goal, and learn skills to help you achieve it.
During my early years at Daxko, I quickly realized that although I enjoyed the training aspect of my job, my ultimate goal was to work on Daxko’s marketing team. When I was a trainer, I sat close to the marketing team and was privy to some of their brainstorms and discussions, and that’s when it clicked: that was the team I wanted to be on. In addition to an Education degree, I have an English degree with a concentration in rhetoric. I was putting my Education degree to use as a trainer, but I have always loved writing and creative processes more than teaching. I recognized that I would be able to put my expertise in persuasive writing to use as a part of the marketing team. Once I had this goal in mind, I began to get to know members of the marketing team and schedule meetings to learn skills from them, such as Pardot and WordPress. These tools helped me in my role as a trainer (I was in charge of the Services monthly newsletter), but the knowledge also gave me an edge when I was interviewing for my marketing role.

#4: Never stop learning.
At Daxko, all team members receive an annual professional development budget to use on courses, books, conferences, or activities that will help us get better at our jobs or learn new skills. In past roles and my current role, I have used part of my professional development money on certification courses to learn more about my field and develop my skillset. Learning shouldn’t stop when you graduate from college. On the contrary, most of the knowledge I have gained through professional development has been more valuable to my career than my college classes. If you work at a company that does not provide a professional development budget, you can still develop your skillset. There are plenty of free or affordable online courses through sites like ALISON, Lynda, and Coursera, just to name a few. Read blogs that pertain to your field. Find thought leaders to follow on Twitter. And ultimately, you won’t know what costs your company might be willing to help cover unless you ask, so keep #2 in mind, speak up, and discuss professional development with your manager.

#5: Find a mentor.
I didn’t have a career mentor until last year. Don’t get me wrong – I have had plenty of mentors in the past who have helped guide and shape me into the person I am today. Last year, though, I sought out a mentor in my field who I could trust not only for career advice, but for professional advice in general. Because I am still fairly young in my career, there have been many situations I have encountered in the workplace that are new to me. That’s why it’s great to have a mentor who is more experienced and who has faced these same situations in the past. When you’re seeking a mentor, I suggest someone in your field (or the field you want to move into) and someone easy to talk to. Many of the conversations I have with my mentor are about our personal lives, and I really value the fact that my mentor has gotten to know me and truly cares about me. I suggest meeting in person once every couple of months (or monthly, if you can swing it) to catch up, and of course, email, call, or text your mentor whenever you need advice.

Remember, your career and development are in your hands. As you think about how to grow in 2017, keep these tips in mind. Have a vision, and make this the year you take strides to achieve it!


Janna B. is Daxko’s Talent Marketing Manager who is slowly becoming a morning person and wishes she lived in the 1960s/70s.

Are you ready to make a career change in the new year? Check out our current opportunities.

Futuristic Management

By | Culture, Employment Brand, Free Career Advice, Grow Your Career, Life at Daxko, Talent | No Comments

Flashback to two years ago: I’m gathering my thoughts and preparing my team’s presentation in our management class. Nervous energy is evident. We’re moments away from giving an hour-long presentation about a “forward-thinking” company. The clock indicates that class has started, and we dive in… We spend the hour discussing idealistic ways of managing groups of teams and individuals, the qualities of an effective leader, and how all of this actually looks in practice. For what?

Why do we even discuss this in the university setting if it is hardly in practice in the workforce?

Because it is the future, and the future is happening now.

According to the Birmingham Business Journal, young people –people like me– want to make a difference in the world. We want to collaborate and have the opportunity to come up with innovative ideas and creative solutions. Let’s be realistic, though. Daxko was my “shoot for the stars.”

Daxko is a fast-paced, exciting environment where team members are asked to be creative. We’re asked to challenge the status quo. If there is a better way of doing something – why not try it? Daxko reminds me a whole lot of that forward-thinking company my team gave a presentation on two years ago. This job was the dream.

When I came aboard, I was enthralled to be inside the type of environment I previously (idealistically) discussed. This is a management major’s playground.

I see the trust within a team and how that allows for more open communication.

I see the effects of being surrounded by excellent, innovative leaders.

I see the transparency and the free flow of information.

And, for what? The impact it makes on our team is immeasurable. We feel valued and capable. We have a dynamic environment that is open to necessary change. Our ideas become customer solutions which enables them to fulfill their mission.

Every single day I notice how Daxko utilizes those “idealistic” management practices, and I love the opportunity to observe and be a part of those practices. Team members aren’t tied to our desks if we feel that we could be more productive elsewhere. Company, product, team, and individual goals are available on our intranet. This transparency enables us to see what our peers are working towards and allows us to collaborate with them to help accomplish their goals. We even have weekly 1:1s with our team leads to discuss the day-to-day and our professional development.

At the end of the day, I go home looking forward to the contribution I’ll be able to make the next day. I already love what I do after one month!


Emily V. is a proud dog mom, and Netflix connoisseur, and lives on Daxko’s Engagement Solutions Team.

K.I.S.S.

By | Building a Company, Culture, Free Career Advice, Grow Your Career, Healthy Stuff | No Comments

For years now an issue has been bothering me every time I make a cup of coffee…

As a coffee drinker, my routine has been to first add the sugar and creamer to my cup before pouring in the coffee so I can control the amount of sugar and creamer added, but everyone I know does this the other way around. Besides the time saved by pouring and stirring simultaneously, I see more cons than pros to the other approach such as the clumps of creamer that form at the top due to the hot coffee vapor or over pouring the sugar.

Since I’ve been a software developer, I’ve encounter many little problems that seem so simple yet are so complicated to fix. Building an enterprise application is as simple as creating a deck of playing cards to play every card game possible, but still someone must manage the little decisions at every level.

As a production manager, you contemplate whether we should produce a deck of cards from only 8s to Aces so that we can start targeting Pinochle players, or do we create a whole deck of 52 cards before going into production? It is nice to generate sales to support existing production, but then there’s a risk with the first and second half of the decks being off color.

As a salesperson, it is easier to sell a deck of cards to someone who has never played a single card game.  How about trying to sell to a group of friends who only play chess, dominos or monopoly? Who in the group should we target first so that they can convince the rest of the group to come on board?

As a trainer, how do we teach our card owners how to play a game in a short period of time? Do we train them only on the game they like to play with emphasis on making them better players or teach them the basics of every game available and let them choose what and how to play later?

As technical support, there are a great deal more decisions to be made, but at least they are more exciting. If a client asks for more strategies of a specific game, what’s the most effective or efficient way to explain to them? Through the phone, Friday poker night over some beers, or taking them to the casinos?

Maybe it’s time to apply the first principle of programming: K.I.S.S. (AKA, Keep it simple, stupid).
At the start of production, do not use any fancy colors; keep it simple until the final deck is ready. Try to introduce the idea of an automatic shuffler when making a sale. Lessen the expenditure for training time so the players can feel more comfortable in taking their time to learn. And instead of technical support, think more of customer success so that they are winning at every game played.

As long as we stick with a well-defined mission and concrete core values, our envisioned future will come sooner than expected.

P.S.: After all, my cup of coffee isn’t perfect.  Upon finish, I usually find deposits of undissolved creamer at the bottom. Should I stir and scrape next time? Nah, too much work.


Tai L. is a Software Engineer who loves Brazilian steak, Napa Cabernet, and Argentina Tango.

Training Tips

By | Culture, Free Career Advice, Grow Your Career, Life at Daxko, Talent | No Comments

Seemingly overnight, I went from five days a week in the office to five days a week on the road. It’s certainly been an adjustment, but, as most things with Daxko go, it has also been an adventure.

I would like to say that after a few months of training customers on the road, I am beginning to feel seasoned in my role as a road warrior. Because of that, here are ten things I’ve learned since I’ve started traveling:

#1: Bring your routine with you. Just because you’re in a hotel room every night doesn’t mean you should skimp on your necessities. I always bring along basically everything I use on a daily basis at home…including a bag full of vitamins.

#2: Don’t bore yourself. It’s so easy to want to go and collapse in your room after a long day of training, but I always try to find a place to go and visit. My favorite trip so far has been my trip to Altavista, VA, because I got to visit lots of historical places there! Pictured in this post are photos from Monticello and the Appomattox Court House.

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#3: Find good food. This one is probably most important to me! I scope out restaurants the minute I touch down in my location that week. I always try not to do fast food on the road because I could have that any time.

#4: Bring headphones. This one is non-negotiable. I’m not really a chatty person, so having headphones for airports and airplanes is a pretty good way around all the small talk. Plus, we’ve all heard crying babies in airports…

#5: Improvise. One of the quickest things you’ll learn on the road is that you have to improvise…a lot. You move classes around, you change flights, you update your hotel reservation…it’s all just part of the job. Learning to roll with the punches and redesign your plan will only help you in the long run.

#6: Learn what you like. Be it an airline, a rental car service, a hotel chain, or a restaurant, learn what you like and stick with it. Sometimes, you have to improvise (see #5) when things don’t go as planned, but once you get into a rhythm, you can help yourself guarantee a little on-the-road bliss.

#7: Hydration and cough drops are key. I carry my 40 oz water bottle around all day and fill it up whenever I get the chance. Staying hydrated is a no brainer anyway, but when you’re talking all day and walking around a classroom, you’ve got to keep your energy up and your voice fresh! Same goes for cough drops…for me, at least. I have tonsillitis at least twice a year, so when my voice starts to go (and it does, every week), I have a backup plan.

#8: Car sing alongs will save you. Sometimes, you fly into an airport that’s a good distance away from your training site. In times like this, open up your Spotify app, turn on some tunes, and sing along. Personal favorite for me? Hamilton soundtrack. Who would’ve guessed that after my last culture blog post? I sang this song more than once on my drive from Charlottesville to Altavista.

#9: Take time to recharge. Being a road warrior will really take it out of you. Take a day of PTO on an off week, pick an early flight so you can get home a bit earlier before the weekend, whatever works for you…do it. Don’t burn yourself out.

#10: If all else fails…ask your sister, the former trainer, every question you possibly could.

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Deeanna S. is a Software Trainer and Tudor history buff who loves the outdoors.

 

Do you love to travel and teach others? Work with Deeanna on the Daxko Training team!