Magic Doesn’t Happen Inside Your Comfort Zone


What do content operations, triathlons, and your career have in common? They all take planning, strategy, and endurance to be successful. Head of Corporate Communication at Contentstack, Jasmin Guthmann, shares her cheat codes for going the distance, whether it’s building a composable content stack, or pushing past personal hurdles. Did we mention she’s also the VP of the MACH Alliance, a triathlon-er herself, and an avid fighter for gender equity in tech? Yea, you don’t want to miss this.

16:55 – Cheat Code #1 – Visualize each step of the process

Jasmin’s hack for pushing past obstacles: ?Box your efforts.? Focus on what’s ten meters in front of you, and behind, to make the task more manageable. You’ll reach the finish line in no time.  

Box your efforts, box your time. Only think about the ten meters in front of you and to your back. Think: ?What can I do in this very small, limited, but also safe space. I can see exactly what I’m heading into. I know what I’ve just come through.? Don’t worry about what’s going to happen in ten kilometers or in twenty. Control the controllables.

Make sure wherever you are in your project plan or campaign, that you’re doing it to the best of your ability. Never lose sight of where you’re headed, but also don’t fret if it’s not perfectly clear. Do the best you can with what you have, where you are in that moment. That will inevitably get you to where you want to go.

That’s a super powerful framework that I use a lot, because it’s so easy to get hung up in these times where everything is ?more?: More channels, omnichannel, the gazillions of messages hitting you every day. It’s important that you are able to focus on the one thing at hand, while not losing sight of what’s really important.

21:56 – Cheat Code #2 – Take time to recover

Jasmin’s biggest tip for avoiding burnout: Rest, recover, and recharge. Before starting a big project, put in a request for PTO the week after, and plan to spend it with those you love most. 

After a race, ?I usually recover for a few weeks and I’m like, ?I don’t want to have to do anything other than splash in a pool and eat all the food.? It just dawned on me that I apply this to business all the time. I’ve seen people burn-out because they?ve hardly finished the last project and they’re already on to the next three. That’ll work for a while, but it’s not sustainable.

We have a thought leadership conference coming up in May. I know that March, April, and May are going to be crazy. The workload will be crazy, but it’s worth it because I’m super excited and passionate about putting it on. I want it to be the best conference that it can be.

I’ve already filed for paid leave the week after, because I know I will be fried. Whenever there is a big project that comes to an end, I take a few days off and everyone is like, ?Jasmin, that is such a smart thing to do.? And I’m like, ?Yeah, let’s all do it, because we’ll all do better work, be better humans, and we won’t be as stressed with our families and friends.? 

27:31 – Cheat Code #3 – Listen to your customers

Remember, your customers are at the heart of all you do. Be sure to listen, and listen often, to what they need, instead of relying on guessing. This constant feedback loop will take you far. 

Contentstack is a content experience platform, Software-as-a-Service. It started out as a headless CMS ? core component of what we call ?Composable Architectures? these days. We actually pioneered what is now called ?Composable? before it was even a thing. There was no label attached to it. 

We saw a pain and that was, ?How do I connect my content to other parts of the system in a way that will actually make my life easier?? That’s how we set out as a company. We’ve always kept the customer at heart and that sounds cheesy, but I think it’s one of those eternal rules.

If you want to be the best version of yourself, you need feedback, and you need to listen to what your customers actually need versus what you think they need. That’s true no matter the industry or company you work for. Having that constant feedback loop and really caring about what the customers want is how you challenge the status quo.

29:43 – Cheat Code #4 – Take small steps with your tech

Building a composable content stack? Take a tip from Contentstack ? the company who pioneered the phrase ?Composable? ? and start small. Pick one pain point and go from there.

What we try to do is start small ? small steps, short swim, not long swim. Pick the one thing that is most painful to you today. Oh, payments. Okay, then how about we start with a POV on payments, and we build it for you.

We connect what needs to be connected and then look at the data and prove, to a degree, that this works better for you than if you?d kept your old premises. If that’s the case, great. Let’s look at the next thing, and the next, and so forth. Little by little, we want to enable customers to go on that journey and go on it safely. 

The one thing that every customer is afraid of in a composable architecture is, ?If something breaks, do I have to call all 27 companies that are involved in my tech stack?? Our program ?Care without Compromise? promises that you can just call us, we’ll figure out the root issue, and have it fixed. There’s no ?It’s not a Contentstack problem.? 

32:28 – Cheat Code #5 – Always do the right thing

Jasmin shares a classic piece of advice: Do the right thing, even when nobody’s watching. When you instill this as a company value, it can be applied universally, no matter the scenario. 

Contentstack operates on a value-based framework. We do the right thing when nobody’s watching. If you install that in a company, you don’t need specific instructions for Case A or Case B, because the principle is universally applicable.

Should I call my customer when I see something is going wrong? Should I offer a discount for something? If you look at the principles that are outlined, it enables everyone in the company to make a decision ? and one that is good for both the customer and company.

40:12 – Cheat Code #6 – Speak up for gender equity  

There are simple changes you can make to build greater gender equity in tech. For example, if you’re asked to talk on a panel, insist that it’s 50% female and 50% male. In short, speak up. 

The tech industry is notoriously horrible in terms of gender equity. Probably 11% of the workforce is female, with little to none ever making it to leadership positions. Really tough environment. There are a few very easy things that we all can do to help. 

My favorite example is, if you’re asked to speak on a panel, insist that the panel is 50/50 male and female. It doesn’t require you to do anything but speak up. If you’re invited to go to a conference, bring a female friend to make sure we all have more representation in the room. 

Everyone can do that. It’s not a manager thing. If you’re on the events team, in charge of the agenda, just speak up and say, ?Hey, I think we have an imbalance here.? So many times just pointing out that something needs addressing is enough. There’s a whole lot of, ?Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that.?

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