Amanda Goetz was the former Vice President of Marketing at The Knot and is currently the Founder of House of Wise, a luxury CBD brand for women. Amanda’s worldly knowledge and diverse experience makes her the perfect guest to speak to efficiency and the importance of appointing a Director of Responsibility for every project or campaign.
Listen to this episode (or read the transcript below) to learn why you should ruthlessly prioritize and defend your time and energy.
1 Who has been your favorite or most memorable boss?
This may not be a direct boss but the person who has been the most impactful in my life was my high school guidance counselor. I went to a really small school, and I was constantly bored out of my mind, and he would pull me out of class, and he really gave me a clear idea of what thinking outside of the box really was.
At school your job is to go to class and when that class is over you go to the next class and it was the first time where I was being presented with an idea that I was told was true, but it actually wasn’t, and I’ve carried that with me throughout my adulthood. Even though the definition of my job may fit into a certain box, it doesn’t mean I can’t start asking other questions or solving other problems and it fundamentally became a huge part of who I am today.
2 When was the first time that you led a team yourself?
Leading and managing and influencing all have nuances to it because you can lead people that don’t directly report to you. It’s nuanced that people don’t understand the whole idea of influencing without authority. You can get people to do things you want to do even if you aren’t their direct manager, but I started managing people later in my career when I started my first company. Everything up until that point was influencing without authority.
At Ernst and Young, I was managing the Entrepreneur of the Year program and doing some tax marketing stuff and I had to collaborate with people on these projects, but I wasn’t actually their boss. My first real management experience wasn’t until I started my first company and I started having engineers that reported to me.
3 Do you have an example of a mistake you may have made early on in your career?
People tend to be really hard on themselves when they start managing but a lot of growth comes from learning by making mistakes. One major mistake I made early on was not understanding personal needs, plans, or different management styles. Additionally, I struggled with knowing how much control to have when it came to oversharing while learning how much I had to share to keep everyone motivated and engaged. Sometimes it’s better not to even start the puzzle until you can give someone all of the pieces. If people don’t have enough information, they’ll create their own. If you only give them two puzzle pieces, they’re going to fill out the rest in their head.
4 You stated that clarity creates coordination and collaboration. What does clarity look like?
A great example is if you’ve ever been in a meeting, and you’re talking about a campaign or a project, and everybody’s throwing out ideas, and everybody feels really good about the meeting but then everybody leaves and has no direction. They don’t know who’s doing what or who’s responsible for the campaign so we’ve really honed in on identifying a DRI which is the ‘direct responsible individual’ and we have a DRI for every single campaign or project or even OKR and that person is responsible for the project and making sure that everyone is doing their respective jobs.
5 What does clear feedback look like?
If you’re going to fire someone, it should never ever, ever be a surprise, all goes back to that foundation of like, what their goal is and what quantitative things you can measure to determine their success and then you have tactics and if those are all clear, you can spend your feedback time on learning about how they are thinking and helping them grow as they work towards their OKRs.
One of the things I learned very quickly in my high desire to be liked is having safe words and safe parameters to allow for a non-emotional attachment to feedback and we started bringing in this idea of start, stop, continue and it’s a two-way street. There should always be at least 15 minutes for a start, stop, or continue. If you and I are having a one-on-one, and I’m your manager, it would be you coming to the table with a start, stop, continue for me, so what can I start doing to support you? What should I stop doing that’s preventing you from growing or doing your best work and what should I continue doing? This dialog just provides this safe spot for you to give me feedback and me to give you feedback. It’s a safe zone where both parties can provide honest feedback.
6 Can you expand on the concept of ruthless prioritization?
I ruthlessly prioritize how I approach my days. It’s about determining when your best thinking time is and prioritizing it which is essentially the time where you can reach a kind of flow state of thinking and ideation and coming up with ideas or going into the weeds on something. Defend that time at all costs because that’s what’s best for your company. Ultimately, you have to maximize your flow state and ruthlessly prioritize it.
7 How do you figure out when you should be prioritizing your team?
By 4:45, I’m putting together a list of three things I need to push forward the next day. They’re not really granular to-dos and I will normally block off 8:30 to 11:30 for my flow state. I also use 5 am to 7:30 when the kids are waking up to get caught up on emails and get ahead of everything while everyone is sleeping so I can get into my flow state at the beginning of each day and already feel like I’ve prioritized getting back to everyone. From 11:30 to 4:00 is usually all meetings and being on other people’s calendars and timelines and projects and that will happen before I get a quick workout in and go back to the kids.
8 How do you know that a meeting is going to be good? Are there certain things you can watch out for?
I stopped going to meetings if there wasn’t a meeting agenda and if there were no optional attendees. Optional attendees are really, really important because everyone may not need to be in the meeting but sometimes people need to know what’s happening so that they can follow up with the right person afterwards. Once I got senior enough in my career where my schedule was bonkers, I truly would not go and if they needed me, then that was on them and I would say Oh, I didn’t see an agenda and I started to tell people on my team that they didn’t have to attend a meeting if there was no agenda because it made people realize that they had a responsibility. If you’re putting a meeting on someone’s calendar it’s costly to the company because people are now sitting in a meeting when they could be getting more work done. Meeting hygiene is so important, and you have to create an agenda and double-check who has to be there and who can just get a recap after the meeting.
9 Where does guilt come from and how can you avoid feeling guilt in the workplace?
Guilt in a work setting usually means you haven’t been intentional about your calendar or your day or your workload. Sometimes, as a founder, I can’t focus on my team as much because I need to fundraise, or I need to be doing media circuits, or my focus just has to be elsewhere. The core of that is communication and expectation management and leading with intention so I will be very, very clear with my team by letting them know that I may be focused on something else but I will respond or meet with them as soon as I can. Leading with intention and not feeling guilt has a third component which is needing to communicate and manage the expectations of the people around you. They all flow together because you won’t feel guilty by not responding to slacks in a timely manner because you’ve set the expectation.
10 Do you have any tips, resources, or words of wisdom for managers or leaders that are looking to get better at their craft?
The more self-aware you become, the better you’re able to help others. When I started to go to therapy, it made me a better manager because when your managing people, you’re managing them as humans, and I can start to notice patterns in their career moves and emotions because I’ve gone to therapy for years, and it helps me realize why they may have been triggered and how we can work together on fixing or resolving something. Going to therapy has helped me rethink situations and understand how to approach different problems.