Lean in to getting more done & fast
Meetings are some of the hardest things to organise and get exactly right when you work for a big company. Just ask Alexandra Sloane, head of marketing at Facebook and Instagram in Australia and New Zealand, whose work days are filled with many and varied meetings.
Handily, she has three hacks for making sure that she gets the most of our every single one of them and they are surprisingly simple to follow at home. The first is about preparation.
“I spend the night before each day prepping for each meeting [that I have] after my kids are asleep,”Alexandra says. She spends about five minutes on each meeting nutting out a few key points: “what we’ll cover, how I want people to feel and what I want the outcomes to be.”
This sets her up perfectly, she explains, when she gets into work the following day and helps her maximise each of her day’s many meetings. “I’m a big fan of 45 minute meetings instead of one hour, or 20 minutes instead of 30,”Alexandra adds.
“Having small breaks between meetings allows you to either quickly action something that was agreed, prepare for the next one, or just have some mental space so I show up for people in a calm and considered way.”
Finally, during the meetings Alexandra likes to “co-work”, meaning that points that are brought up in discussion are actioned straight away. “Rather than writing notes about what needs to be done, let’s get it done together,”Alexandra says. “It makes meetings more productive… This might annoy people – they haven’t told me yet – but I’m always open to feedback.”
The path to marketing
At first after university,Alexandra pursued a career in advertising, working for 11 years at agencies both in Sydney and New York. But in 2013, she returned to Australia to join Facebook, heading up the newly-minted marketing team. (“We were one of the first international markets to have a local marketing team,”Alexandra says.)
“I never intended to get into marketing,” Alexandra admits. “[But] I now love my role and my team at Facebook Australia.”
Part of the reason for this, she says, is the company culture and environment at Facebook ANZ HQ. “We have a philosophy of bringing your whole self to work,” she explains. “This creates a sense of familial connections between staff members, as they become your personal support network as well as your colleagues. As a result, there’s a sense of authenticity and community among the staff members.”
As a leader, Alexandra contributes to this by encouraging her team to prioritise “what makes them happy”.
“I don’t believe that anyone can work for nine hours straight without taking a break and do their best work.”
Alexandra with her son Archie
“As a manager, I like to paint a picture to my team of what success might look like, and then I believe in letting others figure out the path… “I think giving people the space to stretch and grow is important, and equally everyone has their own way of getting there and that’s important to get diversity of thought.”
The power of tilting
Alexandra structures her day around the philosophy of ’tilting’.
“I don’t believe there is such thing as balance, so when I’m doing anything, I like to commit to that 100 percent,” she explains. “Focus on something, do it properly then move on.”
This begins at home, when Alexandra’s day starts early in the morning with her two children – aged six and 15 months – after a quick scroll through Facebook and Instagram. Alexandra does the school and day-care drop off with an almond milk coffee in hand, picked up “at some point on this journey.”
“As part of my tilting ideology, when I’m in the car, I’m singing along [to] the music with the kids or chatting about the little things in life,”Alexandra says. “This all leads back to being able to perform my best at work. When I feel connected with my kids, when I’m well rested, I’m able to perform better at work and I see a vast difference in my quality of performance. It’s about quality not quantity.”
Success is about accountability
When chatting to new starters or her team members, Alexandra always emphasises “that you need to take 100 percent accountability,” she says…
“Set a vision for your day, your meeting, or your career and take ownership.”
Alexandra with her daughter Xanthe
This works both on a micro and a macro level. Alexandra likes to think about how she wants each year to play out “with specifics around what I want to accomplish at work, with my kids, with my parents and friendships,” she explains.
“I then work backwards from this and assess what I can do to achieve my goals… Not to sound morbid, however [for the] big picture I think about writing my eulogy and working back from there.”