Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Meet Katrina Garnes, Digital Marketer and Business Owner


"Build relationships, not links."
- Scott Wyden Kivowitz    
Katrina Garnes is a digital marketer and business owner making waves in the digital marketing world in Georgia. She works full-time in Marketing and Communications, while running her own business as Chief Executive Officer of Cold Storm Media. Katrina is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of a blog called Tell What's Going On and the curator of Digital Empowerment MastermindBefore these positions, she worked as an Online Media Coordinator at Rosewell UMC and the Director of Communications at Central UMC. 

Katrina got a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and Broadcasting from Francis Marion University, where she was Vice President of Student Media Association. I met Katrina virtually on Instagram and was instantly impressed by her your knowledge, career path, and zeal to help youth succeed in their desired careers. I knew she would be an excellent fit for the NK the Marketer community and readers. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did. 

What does a typical day in your role look like?

I work full time in Digital Marketing and Communications, while also running my business, Cold Storm Media LLC, so as you'd probably guess, my day is very busy! Immediately after waking up I meditate for about 10-15 minutes, then proceed to get ready for work. I always make sure that I have at least 20 extra minutes before leaving home, and during that 20 minutes I check and respond to any emails or inquiries. My 9-5 job requires the same thing as my small business. I manage the company's social media presence across all digital channels, brainstorm new and creative growth strategies, create brochures, produce press releases and even do production work for them. After working 8+ hours there, I go home and tend to my business for an additional four to six hours and then my night concludes.

What are you passionate about?

I'm most passionate about helping the youth! During and right after college, a lot of young people have an idea of what they want as a career, but they aren't entirely sure. That was me when I was younger, and I didn't have a mentor to give me firsthand guidance or experience, so that's what I use my platform for now. Communications is a very broad field, and it can be challenging to narrow down the exact route you want to go with it. Once deciding which direction they want to take, I equip them for that role, just to give them an idea of what their day-to-day work life will be like. 

What do you find most challenging about being a Business Owner and Marketer?

One of the most challenging things that I've faced is having balance. As I mentioned earlier, I have a 9-5 takes a lot of my time and energy, which I'd much rather be putting into my own business. Because running my own business is so demanding, I have had to hire interns and assistants to help out. Client dependence can also be complicated and as you know diversifying the client base is vital to growing your business. As business owners, we take on a risk not having our clients pay for services in full upfront. We do want to be considerate and fair, but let's face it, a lot of times people do not follow through and we, as business owners have to protect our finances! As Marketers, we have to make sure that we are staying on our toes and are in tune with trends and creativity. We don't want to lose the ability to attract future clients.

What do you find most enriching about being a Business Owner and Marketer?

Being able to call Cold Storm Media mine is enriching in itself. My blood, sweat, and tears were put into the creation of my business. Starting a business is already a lot of work, but to have it reach exponential levels, is a huge accomplishment. Now, I'm very humble, but I also know that I've put in great work to get my business where it is now, and I'll never allow my work to be undermined. 

How did you find yourself on a marketing career track?

I always loved technology and keeping up with the latest trends and innovations. Digital Marketing won me over because I knew I'd be doing something different every day. I wanted to be able to use my creative mind and take on entrepreneurship, which is what I always wanted. As I mentioned before, I do the same thing for my 9-5 job, for my business, so I'm continuously improving and perfecting my skills.

Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue a career in marketing?

Be consistent with working on your skills. You should always be looking for new things to incorporate into your digital marketing strategy. If you decide on marketing as a career, it should be something you love! Reason being, it can require a lot and become overwhelming, and without a genuine love for it, your drive may die down. Know your audience and stay connected with them. Engage with them and keep them entertained! Lastly, take advantage of the different applications and content management systems that are made available to you! They make life a lot easier by helping you organize. 😀

To learn about Katrina, her previous and current projects, or how you can work with her, visit her website.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Meet Aparna Ashok, Design Strategist and Anthropologist


"No one ever got to the top of the mountain in one giant jump. Challenges can be overcome, goals can be reached, but it can happen only one step at a time."

Aparna Ashok, Design Strategist, Anthropologist, Entrepreneur Coach and Sudoku Lover is currently working on her Master of Arts in Digital Experience Design at Hyper Island. Her last position before starting the program was working as a Design Strategist at Robosoft Technologies. Prior to that, she was an Artist-Curator at Maati Baani, a Development Manager at Barefoot Acupuncturists and an Incubation Associate at UnLtd India. 

Aparna was a sole proprietor for a few years, working as a Producer and Ethnographer at A-shock Production. One of her first jobs was working as a Video Editor at Luther College (Go Norse!), where we met. She also worked as Student Manager, Cashier, and Resident Assistant. Aparna got a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Media from Luther College, and while studying there, she did an exchange program in Culture and Media at the University of Nottingham.

What does a typical day as a design strategist look like?

As a design strategist, the one thing that is guaranteed is that every day will bring new challenges and new ways to respond to uncertainties. If I am in the early stages of a project, the day would consist of gathering information from secondary sources, setting up or conducting interviews, and immersive research. If it is a project that is further along my team and I would be synthesizing the insights gathered from various research methods and ideating ways to bring those opportunity areas to life. If the project is nearing the end, then I would be focusing on communicating the concept effectively to various stakeholders - this involves building prototypes, strategic roadmaps, and a strong presentation. 

What are you passionate about?

Regarding work, I’m passionate about helping businesses to identify and address the core human needs in the ever-changing digital landscape. Currently, I am working on an action research project on ‘Digital Ethics’ to build an ethical framework when developing emerging technologies. We are on the brink of exponential change with technological breakthroughs happening regularly at all levels across the world. Yes, it sounds like science fiction, but as futurist Ray Kurzweil says, we will experience 20,000 years worth of progress in the 21st century. To me, this is an opportunity for us as a human ecosystem to reimagine progress through better long-term choices.

In my personal life, I do vipassana meditation every day to find some grounding amongst all this change. Vipassana meditation training involves a 10-day silent retreat where all you do is meditate for 11 hours a day - it was a refreshing life-changing experience. I am also passionate about Indian classical music and how different ragas (combination of notes) produce entirely different emotions. At the moment I am experimenting with dream yoga and sleep yoga techniques. 

What do you find most challenging about being a Design Strategist?

In the beginning, the most challenging thing was the lack of a methodology. Now after working on a few projects and doing an MA in Digital Experience Design from Hyper Island, I see the method to the madness, and it's exhilarating. Now, I realize the other big challenge, or rather an opportunity for growth is emotion management. Your own and that of your team. For the most part, when doing exploratory research, you are in ‘the fog.' The process of innovation is filled with dead ends and sticky messes, with a magical door thrown in occasionally. It’s paramount for the team to trust and support each other and for each member to embrace prototyping as an opportunity to learn. 

What do you find most enriching about being a Design Strategist?

Every project is a journey filled with uncertainty and discovery. What I find most enriching is the novelty of each project and the magic that comes out of multi-disciplinary teamwork. There are so many ways to approach each project, and I enjoy coming up with the research plan to get the needed insights that fit into the time and scope of the project.  Since these projects come from different industries and sectors, they are opportunities to deep-dive into in that industry and its trends. As a collaborative activity, each team member brings a distinct approach, making the product bigger than the sum of its parts. 

How did you find yourself in your current career?

By serendipity. I studied anthropology and started my career in social entrepreneurship helping set up and scale early-stage social ventures. I was doing service design but wasn’t aware of the term then. Initially, problem-solving was done through strategic and operational changes. I got acquainted with technological solutions when we looked into implementing digital health records for a grassroots health organization preparing to scale. From then on, there was no turning back from digital. I worked with an international music project where all the audio and video was put together through digital collaboration. Then I joined a technology company that made mobile apps where I got a taste for the vast world of design and technology. Most recently, at Hyper Island, I got exposed to lots of industry leaders actively shaping the human-technology future and a wide array of new roles such as service design, digital transformation, etc.

Early in my career, I had asked a Google executive for career advice that I have since taken to heart. He said that his current job didn’t exist when he was studying. His advice was, “Your biggest currency is your skills and how you can apply them. Find something that you are passionate about doing, articulate it, approach people who need that and tell them how you can use your skills to help them achieve their goals”. 

Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue this career?

Design strategist is a newer role where you need to use design for strategic innovation. People often confuse this with knowledge in visual or industrial design. The word ‘design’ here is used broadly. It refers to using design-related principles (read: design thinking) to come up with new ways of doing things. It is about leveraging your previous work experience to do creative problem-solving in an increasingly digital world. Those with liberal arts backgrounds will do particularly well in these roles which require interdisciplinary work. 

Showing the work experience is a chicken and an egg situation. My advice is to get a grasp on Human Centered Design and apply it to a real-world problem with a small team. It can be a small 3-week project. The community garden, waste disposal, finding interesting activities to do around the city - take your pick. Document the process and think about how you can apply the process to a work challenge or another real-world problem that bugs you. IDEO and Acumen+ have a great online course on it. Experiential learning is the best and will help articulate how you approach problem-solving when interviewing for a position such as Design Strategist. For starters, you can also read books like Change by Design (Tim Brown) and Creative Confidence (David Kelly).

If you want view examples of her work and learn more about her career journey, visit her website.

Thanks for reading!