Lindsay Boyajian: Part 2
This is Part 2 of Lindsay Boyajian's interview as part of "Girls of AR & VR - IRL," a series about women in augmented and virtual reality written in terms anyone can understand. In Part 1, we learned the basics about Lindsay. She als defined augmented and virtual reality in her own terms and gave us the inside scoop on what it's like to be a woman in emerging technology. Read it here, or jump right into Part 2 below where we take it to the next level on life outside of work and tips on career growth.
Finding Balance: Loved ones, fitness, and side hustle
How many hours a week do you think you put in?
Answer: (laughs) probably about 70.
I figured. With that crazy schedule, what do you do to keep yourself grounded and present with such a busy lifestyle? What keeps you sane?
Answer: Of course. I carve out time in the morning for myself. First and foremost I make sure to wake up early to work out almost every day. I also use that time to maybe catch up on some reading, catch up on the news, do a cool class with some friends, or things like that. When I have that time to myself I make sure not to check emails because it really detracts from that time. I also schedule dinners in advance with friends, family, and other loved ones to make sure that there is overall balance. It’s easy to stay at the office at all hours, but if you schedule things in advance then it prompts you to pack up and get out the door.
Have you always been into fitness?
Answer: Yeah! I grew up playing sports (golf, tennis, lacrosse) in high school and continued to be active in college. Today I love working out. Trying new classes together is a fun and different way to connect with friends. We’re trying ModelFit for the first time on Saturday!
When you are spending time with your boyfriend or your friends or your family, how do you make sure it’s quality time?
Answer: No e-mails. It’s so easy to get caught up in them. If you open one e-mail then you will open 2 e-mails. It even applies to texts. So definitely make sure that the phone is down and you are giving them your full undivided attention. It’s easier said than done because our generation has always had e-mail and there is always that inbox looming, but putting the phone away and just connecting leads to quality time.
So, you are a contributing writer to Network World on the side. What’s their mission?
Answer: Network World is great publication. They cover all things tech. About 4 or 5 months ago I started writing a little section for them called The Reality of Augmented Reality, where I cover what I’m seeing as far as the trends in AR/VR and other emerging technologies. It has been a great outlet. I see a lot and connect with many people working in AR. It’s been really cool to dissect and share so much of it with the readers of Network World.
How often do you push content to them?
Answer: About once a month. Additionally I try to write my own LinkedIn piece once a month as well (read Lindsay's posts here).
That’s awesome. What pockets of time do you use for your writing?
Answer: That’s hard. I try weekend mornings a lot. I’ll carve out one morning to outline an article and then the next weekend I’ll try to bang it out, but it’s hard to stay disciplined! The great thing about Network World is that I am committed to sending them one piece a month so it really keeps me honest about making sure I am writing and thinking about topics. So I really have to stay on my game. I mean you know as a writer it’s easy to just kind of let it slip.
You said you devote time outside of work to speaking obligations and networking. At what point did you start doing those and what have you gained from that?
Answer: My speaking engagements started when I first came back to New York from Paris. I reached to the organizer of NYVR and asked if I could pitch Augment since we had just opened a new office in the city. They said yes. From there I started trying to pitch Augment at as many meetups as possible to build awareness in the market. That turned into invites for more speaking opportunities, from sitting on panels to speaking at big events around the country.
Those opportunities are just incredible because you get to meet so many interesting people, especially if you are on a panel. The other panelists are usually incredibly talented so to be able to swap insights with them is priceless. I actually moderated my first panel a couple weeks ago for a Women in AR event here in New York. I love moderating because I get to meet amazing women and ask them any question I want!
I can relate – I’m getting that experience from doing all these interviews!
So you joined Augment directly after completing your Masters. Did you enter Augment company as CMO?
Answer: No, I came into the company as a Marketing Manager. At the time I was the 8th employee. We were working in Paris. Like I mentioned I didn't speak great French; I was the only American in that office. I was fortunate because, I got to work really closely with the CEO and the co-founders. We worked to create the strategy and the vision of how we were going to sell Augment. Because at the time – and still today – no one had sold augmented reality as an enterprise solution before. So everything we were doing was new. We were taking traditional B2B marketing and sales strategies and applying them to a completely new market. We did a lot of experimentation in the beginning. We got to be creative in terms of how we were reaching our target audience. I grew into the CMO role after a year and a half, and in early 2016 I actually returned to the US to launch our NY office.
That’s amazing! What was critical to you taking on that role? What do you think made you a good candidate? What did you do in that first year and half that really set you up for that next level?
Answer: The ability to constantly be learning. I am a young female. I don't have 20 years of experience like others in the industry. My role as CMO is to ask the right questions to deeply understand the vision of our CEO and then translate that into our marketing strategy. Then I help to facilitate the marketing team’s activities accordingly so we can express that vision to the wider community.
How did starting your own company in undergrad benefit you in your current role as CMO at Augment?
Answer: Starting your own company as an undergrad presents a lot of challenges in terms of time management. You don't have a lot of experience yet so a lot of it is trial and error. You have to surround yourself with a lot of mentors and seek other entrepreneurs to learn from. I learned a ton as a startup founder. I learned about managing teams and priorities while remaining flexible. A lot of entrepreneurial skills that I use every single day, I developed as a startup founder in undergrad.
What does a typical day look like in your role?
Answer: I think with any startup, there is no typical day. That’s kind of the thrill of it. Every day brings different challenges and experiences. One day you’re the content marketer and the next day you are planning an event. As a marketing team at Augment, we did everything from content marketing, product marketing, SEO management, website implementation and development, setting the roadmap, planning events, and working closely with our sales team to make sure they have the tools in their kit to go out and sell the product. So there’s just a lot and that’s the exciting part of the role.
Has ever been a time in your life where you took a risk and tried something out with a lot of unknowns?
Answer: Yes! My move to Paris. When I was getting my Master’s at Cornell there was this option to do a double degree through ESCP Paris which would put me in Europe for a second year. I thought it was an incredible opportunity. Paris is an amazing city. When else would I have that opportunity? But it was a huge leap of faith. I was born and raised on the East Coast and my network was in New York. I didn't know anyone in Paris. But I just jumped into it anyways and said okay I am going to go. So I went to ESCP. Even though I was the only American in the program and didn't know anyone, it worked out incredibly. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to network and meet people. Now some of my closest friends are from that time of my life when I lived in Europe. I met people and created memories that I never would have otherwise.
What was one of the most challenging work environments that you have been in and how did you navigate through it?
Answer: I would definitely say working in a startup environment at Augment was challenging. The company grew from 8 to 40 in a year and half, and at the end of 2016 it pivoted to focus solely on retail. It was a crazy undertaking in terms of re-branding the company. Up until that point we had a strong foothold in other verticals, so once we decided to become an AR solution exclusively for retailers, we really had to take a step back and re-establish ourselves as a leader the in the retail space. We had to make sure that everyone on the team was aligned from product sales to marketing on how we would communicate with customers. It was an awesome experience in the end because it pushed our team to execute in a way we had never been forced to before.
What advice do you have for women who are already in augmented reality and looking to grow their career? What’s been helpful to you?
Answer: Just keep networking. I know that sounds kind of cliché but I mean we are still such a small group of women in the AR/VR space. The more we attend meetups and other events where we can share our content and cross-pollinate ideas, the more the space will grow, and the more opportunities you’ll find.
Managing People vs. Managing Work
When was the first time you had direct reports?
Answer: The first time I managed people was when I was in undergrad. There were four of us at my startup. I realized there was still a lot to learn about managing teams and that’s when I decided to go back to school and get my Masters in Management.
During my time at Augment, the marketing team fluctuated in size as our strategy morphed. Managing people is definitely a challenge and takes a lot of extra time, but there is something exciting about building a team and seeing that team achieve their goals.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about managing people vs. managing work?
Answer: I think the fact that people are relying on you is most shocking. It’s one thing to be managing your own work. That is something that you can control yourself. But when you’re managing people you realize others are looking to you for answers. They are sometimes waiting on you to report information to them or to work through something with them. That was not something I was used to especially when I founded WeareverYouGo. That’s something I’ve learned along the way.
Also everyone is motivated by something else, so it’s important to find out what motivates your team, what gets them excited, and what they want to achieve in the long term. For instance, my team at Augment and I were really close, so I knew what their bigger career aspirations were in the next 5-10 years. With this, we could create projects to make sure that we are moving them towards that longer-term vision.
Is there anything else you wanted to share with anybody who is reading this?
Answer: One of the biggest takeaways from my career is you can’t really plan what’s going to happen, but you can prepare for it by learning as much as possible. Also, make sure you are always getting yourself out there to network and build your personal brand. No one is going to promote your career like yourself and you never know who you are going to meet when you attend an event.
THANK YOU LINDSAY for taking the time to candidly share your story and knowledge with Here For A Few readers!
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