This week’s blog post is a special Q&A session with my best friend, Sara Strom. Sara is a wife, a dog-mom, an Everme board member and a Senior Marketing Manager at Vigilanz. Sara has had an amazing career journey so far. It hasn’t always been an easy ride, but Sara has spent a lot of time investing in herself to define what she really wants out of her personal life and her work life. I want to share her story with all of you as I think there is a lot to be learned from another person’s experiences, opinions and lessons learned!
Name: Sara Strom
Where do you live? In a lovely little home in Crystal, MN with my husband, Luke, and our two puppies.
How old are you? 27
Where did you go to college? Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. I was a Communication Studies major and Art minor.
What is your Secret Food Obsession? More like what food am I not obsessed with? My top three are probably Gushers, ice cream, and sushi. I’ve been known to make an entire box of Gushers disappear within a matter of minutes…so there’s that.
What is always in your cup holder? My water bottle (with plain old water inside).
What do you love most in your life? Besides my puppies? I love the life that Luke and I have built. I am literally living my dreams, personally and professionally. I’ve had a really rewarding career thus far and am excited for what’s in store. It’s amazing to have a marriage and partnership where you support each other’s goals.
What is your definition of success? Success is combining your passions and skills in a job that allows you to feel financially comfortable. Being successful to me also includes being recognized for your (hard-earned) accomplishments. Whether that’s a verbal “thank you” from your colleague, a company bonus or gift, or simply by treating yourself to something special after you’ve reached a milestone or goal. “Treat yo-self!”
What is your definition of a balanced life? Work/life balance can be nonexistent sometimes in the marketing world. I’m always on my phone, always refreshing my emails, always scrolling through social media. It’s tough to escape the office when your office is always with you. On the flip side, I am immensely grateful for the flexibility that I’m given in the workplace. I can work from my iPad, iPhone, and laptop virtually anywhere. Flexibility is something I would never trade. That said, I try to make sure that I am FULLY present when it counts in my personal life. When I go on vacation, I unplug from work completely. Yes, I’m still on social media because those beach photos aren’t going to Instagram themselves. ;) I try my best to pay attention to relationships, people, puppies, and getting some fresh air when it’s the weekend or when I’m on PTO.
Where do you currently work? I am a Senior Marketing Manager at VigiLanz in Minneapolis.
What has been your biggest struggle(s) since starting your career? Knowing the early signs of when a career/job change is needed. At past employers, there were things that I knew I was unhappy about but in the back of my head, I hoped that they would get better. And unfortunately, I would wait until the problem(s) were so bad that I was miserable. For example, feeling like you hit a financial plateau, or maybe your day to day work is uninspiring. I've learned to start being aware of these types of things at an earlier stage, so that I can take action immediately and not wait around for my employer to act on them.
How did you know your job was the right one for you? Specifically, my most recent and current job – I knew this was the right job for me in the interview process when I met with the hiring manager and discussed the current state of marketing. We were (and are) so aligned on the types of activities that are going to propel the business forward and the personality types and skillsets needed to make that happen.
What is your dream job? My dream job is always evolving based on the needs and priorities of my life. My dream job doesn’t have a particular company or product associated with it but it includes the “success” criteria that I defined above and will always involve marketing/creative in the core of what I do. My current role meets so many of my “dream job” criteria, which is an exciting realization. At some point in time, “dream job” might involve being a stay at home mom, while doing marketing consulting on the side. You never know where life will take you, so I believe that it’s important to make the most of your current situation and if you’re feeling out of balance, you know it’s time to make a change.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “Listen more than you speak.”
What advice do you have for other women navigating their lives and careers?
1) A positive attitude and outlook on life will get you far. Find reasons to smile and laugh more. Both positive and negative energy are contagious – which vibe would people say that you give off?
2) In my opinion and experience, knowing when it’s time to make a change in your professional life can be done by assessing three different categories.
1) Is the work that you do fulfilling, satisfying, challenging, and fun?
2) Do you enjoy, admire, trust, and feel inspired by the people you work with?
3) Does this job meet your financial goals?
If you can answer “yes” to three out of the three, that’s amazing! Two of the three? You’re probably pretty happy overall and can deal with the fact that one of these isn’t quite at the level that you’d like it to be. Answer “yes” to one or zero of these? It’s time to make a change.
What impact has Everme Coaching had on your career? The impact that Everme Coaching has had on both my career and personal life is incredible. Working with Kelsey gave me the clarity that I needed during a time where I was feeling run down and uninspired and ended with landing a dream job. The benefits of working with Kelsey have spilled over into every aspect of my personal life. I’m more organized, more motivated to be a better version of myself, and these benefits are contagious to other people in my life. Positivity breeds positivity. Pass it on and pay it forward.