My P&G Story #13: Superdrug & the inflatable kangaroos

My P&G Story #13: Superdrug & the inflatable kangaroos

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #13: Superdrug & the inflatable kangaroos

My very first day at P&G. I dressed up for it. Over-dressed, in fact (P&G had a fairly relaxed dress code but of course I didn’t know this at the time). I was smart and ready for this job and I was going to make an impression!

 

I was working on Aussie hair care, the coolest* brand in the building (*all marketers secretly believed this, even if they stood up for their own brands). My team took me through my very detailed work plan. The most urgent and important project at the time was the Superdrug in-store plan for Australia Day. They said it was all about incremental display, in-store execution, return on investment, customer collaboration…and Aussifying the stores. I kept nodding, but to be honest I was a little overwhelmed – my theoretical marketing classes had not prepared me for this.

 

The only thing I truly understood was that I had to get a bunch of inflatable kangaroos into Superdrug stores on 26 January. Delivering brilliantly and on time is a big value for me, so I clung onto this concrete deliverable like my life depended on it.

 

 

The problem was, no one else’s life seemed to depend on these inflatable kangaroos. Procurement had strict criteria on what kind of plastics were deemed safe for consumers – 99% were not. The supplier would take a few extra weeks to deliver because of Chinese New Year (how unlucky was this?!). To top it all off, the P&G account manager went on holiday during the most critical time when we had to decide on the size of the kangaroos! How was this allowed!?

 

As a responsible individual, and one that would not fail on her first project at her first job, I took matters into my own hands. I called the Superdrug buyer directly. I had never met her, or even spoken to her before. The conversation went something like this:

 

“Hello, my name is Desi and I work on Aussie. We need your urgent approval on the inflatable kangaroos for the in-store event.”

 

I could practically hear the confusion in her silence. I thought I better explain the severe consequences of delaying the approval.

 

“If we don’t get the approval today, we will miss the delivery because the lead time is longer because it’s Chinese New Year and then [my own version of ‘the incremental display, in-store execution, return on investment and Aussifying the stores’] will be ruined!”

 

Still confused and possibly slightly amused or perhaps angry, the buyer relented “Let me see what I can do.”

 

 

Yes, inflatable kangaroos exist. And yes, they must wear a seatbelt in my car.

 

 

The inflatable kangaroos made it in-store on time and the event delivered excellent results. I was proud and excited and felt all the hard work and stress was worth it. Once I had some time to cool down, the account manager invited me for a coffee and a s**t sandwich. In case you haven’t heard this expression before, it’s basically giving bad feedback sandwiched between two positive things, to soften the blow:

 

He said he had never seen anyone so fierce and determined to deliver a project. Oh, and by the way, the inflatable kangaroos were just a small executional detail amongst many other factors that made the in-store event a success. Now keep up the great work and positive spirit!

 

Was he saying I had pestered the Superdrug buyer and obsessed over some inflatable kangaroos that didn’t even matter? Yes, that’s exactly what he was saying.

 

The results were good so I let it pass. But I did learn a valuable lesson for my next in-store executions: inflatable kangaroos are optional.

 

 

Get unstuck by zooming out and looking at the big picture. What are the critical factors that will make or break your project?

 

Feel like you’re wasting energy on small things? Coaching helps you identify the critical factors and do work that matters. The first critical factor for coaching is booking your free consultation.

My P&G Story #12: What’s your dream job?

My P&G Story #12: What’s your dream job?

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #12: What’s your dream job?

A new manager had joined our team. He knew we felt uninspired. On his first day, he took us out of the office for lunch (yes, it’s possible even when you work in an industrial estate with noisy trucks and dusty warehouses).

 

We had prepared a business summary and expected questions like “How can you drive double digit growth this year?” We were surprised when our new manager didn’t mention a word about business and instead was curious about our lives:

 

“If you weren’t working here and you could do anything, what would you be doing?”

 

No one in the company had ever asked us this question. There was an unspoken taboo on sharing ambitions for work and life beyond P&G. What if the company doubted our commitment and stopped supporting us?

 

The taboo was broken. Our manager shared his dreams and we shared ours. We got to know the human element of our each other, the one that had been hiding behind name badges and job titles.

 

Each time we reviewed my work plan, he would ask:

 

“How will this [possibly not very exciting] project contribute to your future ambitions?”

 

He reframed even the most mundane projects as an investment in my dream career. I still didn’t love my job, but now it had a higher purpose – I was learning skills that would be helpful later, I was overcoming challenges and becoming more resilient. As a result, I respected my manager and worked twice as hard for him.

 

Get unstuck by setting a higher purpose for your work. Besides not getting fired, how is delivering brilliant work helping you develop?

 

Are you stuck in a boring and meaningless job that you just have to do right now? Coaching can help you make the most of it by connecting it to your overall purpose. Explore how by booking your free consultation now.

Photo credit: Kuramathi

My P&G Story #11: The 3 unexpected benefits of my sabbatical

My P&G Story #11: The 3 unexpected benefits of my sabbatical

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #11: The 3 unexpected benefits of my sabbatical

I had decided to leave my safe, well-paid corporate job and I thought:

 

“I might as well take a sabbatical now. Who knows when the next possibility might arise?”

 

Like most people, I wanted to take a break, to do a bit of travel and spend time with my family.

Unlike most people, I didn’t want to launch a business, ‘find myself’ or learn something new. Instead, I wanted to forget about work, to lose myself and to unlearn some of what I had spent the last 7 years learning at P&G. Mostly, I wanted to do absolutely nothing at all. This change of pace brought about some unexpected benefits.

 

BENEFIT 1: I GOT MY FIRST CLIENT

HOW I GOT IT:

I completely stopped talking about work. It was tough – everyone wanted to know why I had left P&G and what I was going to do next. It was really tempting to share my dreams, to analyze my fears, to recall each step of my journey. But I stayed strong and didn’t indulge them. Eventually I relaxed and started living in the moment. I was surprised how much there was right here, right now. The magic lay in the balance between my P&G past and my training and development future. I relaxed and opened up and when, out of the blue, a man from Bahrain asked me to become his coach, I accepted the opportunity.

I got my first client by living in the here and now.

 

BENEFIT 2: I DISCOVERED THE ‘BEING’ MODE

HOW IT GOT IT:

For a whole month, I did nothing. I stopped planning. I didn’t invite friends out. I didn’t go to yoga. I just woke up and let the day unfold. After seven years in a demanding and dynamic job, doing nothing was not just difficult, it was horrifying. I had nothing to accomplish and therefore no way to justify my existence. When I completely stopped doing stuff, I thought there would be nothing left. But there was. It was called ‘being’ and it had been there all along, buried under deadlines and often useless actions.

‘Being’ allowed me to be proud of who I was inside. It was a welcome break from having to prove myself by constantly ‘doing’. Now I can choose which mode I want to be in and switch when I need a change of perspective.

I discovered ‘being’ by intentionally pausing ‘doing’.

 

BENEFIT 3: I GOT MY CONFIDENCE BACK

HOW I GOT IT:

I had joined P&G straight out of university. The company was all I knew of the working world. It was P&G that taught me the principles-based thinking by which I operate to this day. It was P&G that equipped me with the one-page template which I still use. It was at P&G that I met some of my best friends.

During my sabbatical, I actively un-learnt the P&G ways. I sought different perspectives. I ripped off the ‘P&Ger’ label and tried the opposite of everything I used to do. I played being the opposite of who I used to be. I remembered who I was before I started work. I reconnected with my natural strengths, some of which had been suppressed because they didn’t fit with the corporate values.

Then I put both sides of me together – the P&G lessons, skill and experience and my natural talents and values. A new confidence emerged – one that was stronger and not limited to one organization.

I got my confidence back by separating my identity from my job.

 

Looking back, I realize I don’t have to wait for a sabbatical to experience these benefits again:

  • I choose to live in the here and now. Daily meditation helps me with this.
  • When things start to get out of control, I intentionally stop ‘doing’ and switch to ‘being’. Asking myself “Who am I being in the face of this challenge?” usually does the trick.
  • Whilst my personality is a big part of my work as a coach, I constantly remind myself that I am not my job. I haven’t fully mastered this, but I am working on it.

 

If you were taking a sabbatical now, what benefits would you like to experience?

How can you get these benefits whilst working?

My P&G Story #10: How I got my confidence back

My P&G Story #10: How I got my confidence back

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #10: How I got my confidence back

People are often surprised to hear that I became more confident after leaving P&G. Didn’t I feel prouder saying “I work for P&G” than “I work for [some unknown] company”? At first I did, but during my sabbatical I discovered that true confidence doesn’t come from the organization I work for, no matter how supportive that organization it may be.

 

There were many awkward moments during my post-P&G sabbatical. The most awkward (and frustratingly, the most frequent) one was introducing myself. I could no longer use my usual line “I’m Desi, I work for P&G”, so instead I said:

 

“I’m Desi, I used to work for P&G.”

 

For the past seven years, I had been a ‘P&Ger’. Leaving the company had left a big gap in my identity. It was like jumping out of the mother ship and floating silently away, stuck in space yet belonging nowhere.

One day, whilst waiting at the bus stop, I heard a small child proclaim “I am Alexander.” And I that’s when it struck me. Children don’t put their life on hold, waiting to join a company so they can finally receive an identity. They live with the identity they already have, the one they got at birth.

But surely such simple introductions were for kids. I was, after all, supposed to be an adult. For the next week, I put my adult status on hold and experimented with a child-like introduction:

 

“I’m Desi.”

(*holding breath*)

 

90% of people didn’t even ask me where I worked. This opened up space for other topics – like the countries where I had lived, my Ashtanga yoga practice and my upcoming holiday. I began to recognize the values that underpinned my identity – freedom, discovery, perseverance. I realized I was still living these values even outside of P&G. The company, therefore, had been a contributor to my identity – rather than being my identity.

This liberating thought led me through a process of letting go:

  1. I acknowledged P&G’s contribution to my life – it had taught me about marketing, business and developing people.
  2. I was grateful to have started my career in one of the best companies in the world.
  3. Finally, I peeled off the P&G label and separated myself from the company.

 

Redefining my identity as internal rather than external gave me a new air of confidence. This confidence was stronger because it depended only on me and my choices, rather than on other people or organizations. It took me a long time to get this confidence and now that I felt its benefits, I vowed to never let it go.

 

Get unstuck by peeling off the labels. Who are you, at your core?

 

What labels are you sticking on yourself? Coaching helps you uncover your true self and (re)gain confidence. Discover how by booking your free consultation now.

My P&G Story #9: When I let my team member go

My P&G Story #9: When I let my team member go

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #9: When I let my team member go

I was recruiting team members to deliver a new hire training. Ana was perfect for the job – enthusiastic and with a quirky perspective. When I asked her to join the team, she was thrilled and committed right away. Job done, I thought.

I was wrong. Despite her initial eagerness, Ana was impossible to pin down. She dropped out of meetings in the last minute, didn’t deliver the work we had agreed and generally wasn’t taking the lead on her project. Her excuses were varied:

 

“My manager asked me to meet at this time”

“I have a big deadline tomorrow”

“Once I’m back from holiday, I’ll get started on it…”

 

I didn’t want to appear inflexible, so I adapted our team meetings around her. I also didn’t want to seem pushy, so I had a few friendly chats with her and reminded her of the importance of delivering on time. I was cautious this could set the wrong example for the rest of the team, but I reassured myself it was a one-off.

 

Ana still wasn’t delivering and I found myself rationalizing on her behalf. That’s when I realized all the excuses came down to one simple fact: the new hire training was low on Ana’s priorities; so low in fact, it was about to fall off the paper. I was stuck between maintaining the relationship with my colleague and getting the work done.

 

I asked myself:

 

“What is the most important factor in delivering this project?”

 

From all my years of leading the training team, I knew the answer was dedication. Whilst Ana was smart and generally hard working, she was not dedicated to our project.

Keeping her on the team wasn’t fair to the new hires who deserved the best training. It also wasn’t fair to the rest of the team who would have to pick up her slack in the last minute. It was going to be a difficult conversation but I knew I had to do it.

 

“Ana, how are you feeling about the new hire training?”

“Well, I like the project but I am overwhelmed right now.”

“Alright, so what would help you?”

“Hmm… maybe I can step out for now and join the team in a few months when I have more time?”

“I think dropping this project is the right thing for you so you can concentrate on your top priorities. It is also the right thing for our team because we need everyone giving 110%.”

 

I had feared Ana would be upset when I let her go. Instead, she was relieved – and so was I. My team had to do a bit of extra work to compensate for her absence, but we had more than enough time – and dedication – to do it.

 

Get unstuck by aligning your priorities with your team. If they don’t match, the work won’t get done on time, well, or at all.

 

Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list? Coaching helps you to identify what’s most important and to focus on it without feeling guilty about the other stuff. Prioritize yourself by today booking your free consultation.

 

My P&G Story #8: Now is perfect and perfect is now

My P&G Story #8: Now is perfect and perfect is now

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #8: Now is perfect and perfect is now

Just a year after I started working at P&G, I was asked to join the team that trains the new marketers. Me? But I’m quite new and still learning myself. On the day of the training, I was really nervous. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. My colleague nudged me over to the front of the room. All eyes were on me. What could I possibly teach these new hires?

 

Quite a lot, it turned out.

 

I may have only known a little bit about marketing, but they knew even less. I delivered some of the best-scoring training and – once I managed to shake off the nerves – I had a lot of fun. This was the beginning of my people development career. Looking back now, I wonder when this beginning would have happened if I had waited for the ‘perfect’ moment to train the new hires.

 

Get unstuck by jumping straight in. You’ll never be 100% ready so what are you waiting for?

 

Are you waiting for the ‘perfect’ moment? Coaching can give you the confidence to go for the opportunity. Jump straight in by booking your free consultation now.