Making The Shift To Modern Work
Rashidi Barnett is one of those people who can jump into big hairy-mess situations and stay cool as a cucumber. This has allowed him to be incredibly successful in the ever-changing (and often big hairy-mess) world of marketing, media, and technology.
After earning a degree from the prestigious Clark Atlanta University, Rashidi set out to find a career that was fulfilling and challenging. In the very beginning of his career, he says, “I always had a strong interest in tech and marketing, so I began looking for opportunities within the digital marketing space in Atlanta.”
Rashidi landed his first job as a Digital Marketing Manager at EarthLink, at a time when his colleague counterpart was on vacation and his manager had just put in his two weeks’ notice. (Raise your hand if you’ve been there!) Those first few weeks were an absolute whirlwind. “I was drinking from a fire hose…I learned a tremendous amount in that short period of time,” says Rashidi. His experience at EarthLink, working in an ambiguous environment at a rapid pace served him well as he continued to expand his skills and experience in sales, advertising, and marketing with some of the biggest names in the industry. He spent time at a small creative agency before joining AOL as an integral part of their Sales Strategy Team.
It was a time of constant disruption for AOL. They were in the midst of the TechCrunch and Huffington Post acquisitions and things were changing rapidly. Rashidi was thrilled to be a part of solidifying AOL’s position as a national premier content network and to turn disruption into a tremendous opportunity for the company. He was then recruited by Google to be a Programmatic Display Specialist for travel brands. If you have no idea what that means, think advertising strategy for major air, rental, and hotel clients. This work is incredibly important as the media landscape, just within Google products and services offering, changes at a rapid pace and it’s important to have a team to sort through the clutter and make the best recommendations for clients on how to maximize their return on their advertising investment.
All of the experience gained in these traditional work roles made Rashidi an incredibly valuable resource when he shifted into modern work with We Are Rosie. He joined the We Are Rosie community to continue to have the career he wanted while finding the harmony he was seeking in his personal life after becoming a father to two young boys. With ad agency, publisher, and tech under his belt, he jumped on board as a Digital Media Consultant. “What stood out to me [about We Are Rosie], is that flexibility is needed in the workplace, especially when you are raising little ones.” But it’s not just words that matter, it’s important that workplaces act on them. “If that flexibility is not coming from the top down, it can be difficult to manage both responsibilities and have the flexibility that’s needed to work from home, so you can have a longer workday without the commute, you can take your child to the doctor, tour a school, or get a healthy dinner on the table in time.” Modern work schedules create the ideal balance between having the career you want and managing all of life’s responsibilities.
Rashidi says working freelance for mission-driven We Are Rosie opened up doors for him and allowed him to “gain some experience on projects [he] might not have had the opportunity to do previously.” His first project was as part of a team of nine, running all social and programmatic media for a Fortune 100 QSR for 5 months. Next up, he helped rebrand a bootstrapped tech company. This variety gave Rashidi an opportunity to use what he already knows about tech, media, and marketing, and to further his skills and expertise by learning from his We Are Rosie peers on large scale projects.
Much of freelance work is done remotely which can be an adjustment for some, but Rashidi isn’t new to it, saying, “I am used to working with teams that I do not physically sit next to, so that part wasn’t a challenge. For those who are physically close, we have in-person meetings initially, while others are on the phone or video chat.” Keeping everyone on the same page as the project progresses has its challenges, so to keep the lines of communication open Rashidi uses tech platforms, like Slack. Different channels are used to keep different campaigns in order, which he says is “far more efficient than just using email, and the right people are staying in sync.” The team also uses Sococo voice calls to drop in and talk to remote colleagues, “just as if you ‘popped’ into their office.” These apps allow the team to stay connected and continuously build rapport.
Whether your office is physical or virtual, Rashidi says trust and transparency in work relationships are incredibly important. Not every company is partnership-focused like We Are Rosie, and it’s caused some miscommunications in the past. “I found that in scenarios in which I am only viewed as a vendor and not a partner, there is far less transparency,” Rashidi explains. Some details are left out, which results in making decisions without the whole story. Even if all ends well, “having all of the information could have made an even greater impact. I look for partnerships, not vendor/client relationships.”
If there is any advice to give to others who are currently in or considering freelance work, Rashidi says, “it’s important to find the right clients, which We Are Rosie has done an excellent job of. You are evaluating them or the opportunity to see if they are a good fit, just as they are evaluating you. It truly should be a partnership.”