I just spent a full day living Rob Longert’s life.
Rob is a junior account executive who agreed to swap jobs with me for a full day. So, while I shuffled off to his cubicle alongside our other junior account executives, Rob ‘ran’ Peppercom for a day.
The idea, which at first seemed like a lark, ended up becoming a huge learning lesson for me. I learned, for example, how difficult and stressful it is to be an account executive at a fast-paced agency. I also learned how critical technology has become to the job of an account executive (and, how daunting such technology can be to someone who isn’t the most tech-savvy guy in the world).
Perhaps most importantly, I ‘re-learned’ what it feels like to be on the receiving end of an assignment. It’s easy to drop off a task and ask someone to get it done by COB. It’s quite different, though, to be struggling to juggle three existing assignments, and then have someone drop off a late afternoon assignment that’s due by COB. Talk about meltdown city.
The tasks I was assigned were probably a breeze for a 20-something junior account exec to perform, but I defy any senior PR executive to try and compile comprehensive news searches, scan articles, track down and forward links to various teams, attend team meetings and brainstorms and, oh yes, draft a pitch letter for a client’s industrial product, all within an eight hour day.
I can honestly say that I came close to drowning. I blew every deadline I was given, and felt like I was letting my various account teams down.
At the same time, I observed some things that could be improved upon and, perhaps, make us a better place to work. I also came away with enormous respect for the incredibly intense schedules our people have. In fact, I honestly thought twice about asking our various account people to help me with things today after having gone through my Rob Longert of a day yesterday.
I encourage any executive in any line of business (even medical supplies) to set aside a day and see what it’s like to be a junior person at your firm. I guarantee you’ll be a better person for having gone through it.
So while I’m still recovering from being Rob Longert, I’m really glad I did the day-long swap. As for you, Rob, my hat’s off to you. Words can’t express how thrilled I am that you’re doing your job and I’m doing mine. Being Rob Longert is brutal.
Click here to hear a discussion about the day with Rob, Steve and Peppercom staff.
Good skills RepMan ;o)
Thanks for the interest in our job swap day!
I must say that I was very excited, and somewhat nervous of what to expect for the day.
As soon as the mass email went out to the company about the swap, I got messages from co-workers asking for raises, telling me to fire people, and a message from Dandy asking what I would like for lunch from Smith and Wollensky.
I did not in fact get lunch from Smith and Wollensky, nor did I fire anyone, but I did have a great day in the shoes of Repman.
I really enjoyed seeing how self sufficient we are as a company. Peppercom basically ran on auto pilot and everything was business as usual, besides Steve drowning in news searches in my cube(Not to worry…I helped Steve as best I could. He was a great student of the news search and caught on very quickly.). Great job young grasshopper!
Steve could’ve picked anyone here to be a managing partner and I am quite confident all of our staff members would’ve made the right decisions and held down the fort. I think the transition of being a managing partner for the day was good for everyone at Peppercom.
I had JAEs sending me instant messages while sitting at Steve’s desk, asking if I had a moment to chat, and they felt comfortable doing so. Most of the time when we want to speak to Steve, we have to go through Dandy due to his hectic schedule, so it must’ve been nice to come chat with me by just sending over an IM.
This was a very valuable experience for me, and Steve hasn’t stopped raving about how much he loved doing daily news searches.
I truly feel that this could become a nice Peppercom tradition, and a day that everyone looks forward to once or twice per year.
I must say, I did get to have a great workout at Steve’s gym, but Dr. Harte was not available for any gallivanting.
As for the trick playing, that is always on my to do list…not to worry.
Thanks to Steve and Jenny for asking me to participate in such a rich and enjoyable experience.
Let my reign as managing partner live on!
Terrific read, Repman. This makes me think to my past days when the phone was used more and we faxed instead of emailed. Times have changed!
I’m not sure I could do this though, as it’s hard to beat my sandwich making skills.
fascinating post and great idea. would love to hear about rob’s day!
Absolutely brilliant Steve – a real lesson to CEOs of any organisation. I take my hat off to you. I remember having the same challenge when we set up Peppercom Europe and having to assume the JAE hat (out of necessity of being in start-up mode) was the hardest challenge but made me appreciate how much they do!
Been a while, eh? I was surfing on the old ‘Net, being Jimmy da Moock (as only I can do), and came across this blog. Might I just say that I am most impressed with this idea and your reporting – if you did indeed go through an entire day as a JAE.
I am sure the lessons learned (by Rob and yourself) will pay dividends to your agency for quite some time. When Rob get’s a chance, can he post about his shenanigans of playing tricks on junior staff members and gallivanting across Manhattan with Dr. Richard Harte?