Missy Taylor: “You are loved”

You are loved. I know we are all feeling a little lonely right now. We need interaction with our friends and loved ones in order to feel connected. So call your friends. Let them know you love them and are thinking about them. Share how you are feeling. I’m certain you’ll feel lighter once you do. […]

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You are loved. I know we are all feeling a little lonely right now. We need interaction with our friends and loved ones in order to feel connected. So call your friends. Let them know you love them and are thinking about them. Share how you are feeling. I’m certain you’ll feel lighter once you do.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Missy Taylor.

Missy Taylor is a proven business leader with her key focus as COO being operational efficiency and scaling for growth. Her career passions include organizational leadership, creative problem-solving, and team building. A dedicated mother to two amazing children, Missy can also be found cheering on her daughter running cross-country or coaching her son’s little league baseball team.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I’ve been in advertising and marketing for almost my entire career. I actually started in the industry at an Atlanta based digital marketing agency called Spunlogic as the bookkeeper! I quickly took on more and more responsibilities, and continued to elevate within the operational side of the business. The breadth of my operations know-how covered everything from human resources to recruiting, resource management, business finance, revenue planning, and contract review. I was looking for a bit of a change then and transitioned to a global project manager role where I joined a team that led the Cisco Systems, Wells Fargo and UPS accounts. After working in a client-facing, project operations role I was looking for my next challenge. That’s when I found Dagger. At the time, they were brand new, only a company for two months, with two co-founders. I was ready to see how I could bring my business operations expertise, paired with my client and project management experience, to a company that was only just being built. I’ve now been at Dagger for over six years and have gone from covering both the business and project operations sides of the business to now more narrowly focusing on the efficient scale and growth of the company as COO.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

With a six-year tenure at Dagger, I have had quite a few interesting things happen to me here! What I will share with you today is the most recent instance. At Dagger we provide our leadership team and managers with bi-weekly leadership coaching. My coach met with my CEO and me to align on my growth themes and brought a new idea I hadn’t previously considered to the table. He recommended I pursue my MBA citing that the value it would bring to both Dagger and myself would be monumental. I immediately agreed that this would be a great idea and started to research the application process. After digging in, I learned that the application was due within a week. So, I dove in, updated my resume (which after six and half years was not a quick and easy task — something I’m sure everyone can relate to), wrote three essays, completed the entire application, and scheduled my interview. I had my interview the following week and found out two weeks later that I had been accepted. When things happen so serendipitously like that, you have to think it was meant to be!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, one of my core initiatives at Dagger is “dOS,” or “Dagger Operating System”. dOS governs the way our team works together and communicates through simplified and streamlined routines, processes, tools and initiatives. We actually liken dOS to iOS. Our routines, processes, space, etc. manifest as apps, and “Dags” (Dagger team members) are our users — users whom we want to have a frictionless experience so they can do the best work of their careers at Dagger and thrive. As such, we are in a constant state of beta, always evaluating how our operating system should evolve and rolling out updates that smooth out kinks in process, assist in new program rollouts, provide support in our ever-changing world (hello pandemic), and ultimately help Dagger, and our team, scale for growth.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am very fortunate to have worked alongside so many incredibly talented and supportive people in my career. I could list several of those people here. But, I think the one person I am the most grateful for in this journey so far is my husband. His unwavering support of my professional ambitions has been so critical as I have put a lot of intentional focus into work and my career. And, more than just a single story of what his support has looked like, is an ongoing consistency in the little things like making dinner for our family every night, taking care of laundry on the weekends, driving our two children to all of their activities, and more. Without his support I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the success that I have to this point.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to consistently excel across all aspects of my life: career, mom, wife, friend, mentor, student. That has become increasingly more difficult to maintain as the pandemic has continued. It has actually been more challenging for me to focus in on each area individually and feel like I have given it the attention and priority I would like. And I’ve definitely recognized the impact that being at home most of the time has had on my family. My children, ages 11 and 14, have needed a lot of emotional support in dealing with their own loss of normalcy, and I’ve had to increase my emotional capacity to effectively support them.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I have a weekly routine: I put all of the priorities on the balance beam and then construct my schedule in a way that allows me to accomplish everything in the most efficient way possible. Keeping to this routine means I can keep track of where my time and energy is being spent, and change it up easily if I need to reprioritize or reset. I also block my lunch hour everyday so I can focus on my kids: eat lunch with them, go on a walk with them, and talk with them. That one quality hour has proven to be so valuable and needed in our day-to-day at home.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

When the pandemic first began, we all thought we’d be back in the office within a few weeks, or at the latest, a few months. And now, after more than 6 months, we have definitely reached that point in the pandemic in which “zoom fatigue” is real. We desperately miss interacting and collaborating face-to-face, and focus is harder and harder to achieve. My biggest challenge has been navigating how these impacts are changing how we operate as a team at Dagger.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

“Recalibrating Realities!” We started with soliciting input from the team at Dagger about what they were struggling with and if they had any feedback to share. After reviewing feedback, we surfaced six key themes for our full team to brainstorm ideas around what Dagger could do to make the quarantine work environment better (aka “recalibrating realities”). Each person was randomly assigned to a group and theme, the groups brainstormed ideas, then presented those ideas back to the full company. Every person in the company then rated the ideas on a 1–5 scale and the ideas with the greatest number of votes are now being implemented.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Oh yes. First, to all of the hardworking parents out there, multitasking on conference calls while playing tech support, lunch chef, mentor, teacher, and parent — you are awesome! The switch to virtual schooling has certainly been a true test of my abilities — and patience — but I have found that doing a few key things for myself has made it easier to continue to balance work from home with virtual school. First, having a dedicated workspace where I can focus on work is key. Second, sticking to a routine for myself and the kids, similar to what they would experience if they were at school, is critical. Third, communicating and maintaining boundaries, for both work but also for home, and time blocking my work calendar accordingly, is one of the best ways I’ve been able to make sure I’m meeting both the expectations of work and home. And finally, I’ve been intentional about leaving “breathing room” in my calendar throughout the day to be sure I can jump in and help my kids when they need it.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

Walking! Lots and lots of walking! I have found that taking a walk, or two, with my kids and my dog everyday decreases my stress level and elevates my mood. I’ve also found that scheduling activities that we can do in quarantine gives everyone something to look forward to and breaks up the mundane feeling of staying home day in and day out. Lastly, recognizing when everyone needs their own space — and being okay with that!

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

There is no better time than the present. What we all have in common right now is time. We all have the opportunity to learn, grow, and make ourselves better. Take this time for you. Focus on what you can do to be a better you. That might be trying a new hobby, learning how to cook, or just reading a new book. What I’ve found is that the more time I spend learning, the more confident and driven I become.

Progress is possible. I’m optimistic for the future based on the progress I have seen take place in the U.S. in 2020. While the progress is long overdue and still a slow moving train, it is moving and people are waking up. I have had some of the most vulnerable and compelling conversations with coworkers, friends, and family since June and I value those so much. Understanding is the first step to taking action.

You are loved. I know we are all feeling a little lonely right now. We need interaction with our friends and loved ones in order to feel connected. So call your friends. Let them know you love them and are thinking about them. Share how you are feeling. I’m certain you’ll feel lighter once you do.

Challenge leads to strength. When we go through challenging situations, we grow stronger because of them. A personal example I can share is that right after I had my second child I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. I was slowly being paralyzed from my feet, to my legs, to my arms, face and respiratory muscles all while I was recovering from labor with a newborn and a 2-year-old. I was very scared and uncertain about what this would mean for my future. At any time my body could stop fighting and I could be in an actual life-or-death situation. Thankfully, I slowly started to recover. I was able to walk and hold my baby. I still get bouts of fatigue and have nerve damage but what I have taken away from this challenge is a determination to be strong — both mentally and physically.

Silver linings. I try to think about what my time spent in this pandemic has taught me and what I can be grateful for. There are silver linings, at least for me, in what has happened. One of which is that I get to eat lunch with my kids every day! What a game changer for me as a working mother. I think I’ll look back on this time and truly value how much more time I was able to spend with my children.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

We are all going through our own version of this pandemic — together. We have some shared experiences, and some non-shared experiences. Recognizing that others are dealing with the loss of normalcy, loss of self, loss of security, loss of loved ones — and offering to create a supportive space for them to express that loss — can be crucial. Create space for others to share how they are feeling through open-mindedness and truly listening: that is usually what they need most. Just knowing that someone hears you and acknowledges how you are feeling can make a difference.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote comes from Nelson Mandela: “I never lose. I either win or learn.” I like to keep things pretty positive in my life, and approaching outcomes with either winning or learning allows me to take more actionable steps forward into whatever I need to tackle next.

How can our readers follow you online?

Please connect with me on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/in/missy-taylor/

You can also find out more about Dagger at Dagger.Agency or our in-house media company Butter.ATL on Instagram at @Butter.ATL.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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