Episode 038: The Many Hats of Lynn Winter

Today, we are privileged to be talking with Lynn Winter, web project manager, content strategist, pro sports cameraperson and conference producer.

Here's what we're discussing in this podcast:

  • Lynn's many jobs, talents and skills
  • Picking strawberries
  • Babysitting, maybe not
  • Growing up in Northfield, MN
  • Attending Hamline University
  • Working at TPT (TwinCities Public Television)
  • Roles of a TV production manager
  • Working as a camera operator for professional sports teams
  • Doing MN Vikings games
  • Getting called up for the big game... Superbowl
  • Doing the NCAA Final Four
  • Moving into the digital world
  • Starting at Gorton Studios
  • A passion for content strategy and user experience
  • Manage Digital, an annual conference

TRANSCRIPT

IVAN STEGIC: Hey Everyone! You’re listening to the TEN7 Podcast, where we get together every fortnight, and sometimes more often, to talk about technology, business and the humans in it. I am your host Ivan Stegic. In this episode of the podcast, Lynn Winter, someone who has done many seemingly different things since the turn of the millennium, everything from leading projects to content strategy, to participating in the video production of the Superbowl in Minneapolis this year, to starting a conference called Manage Digital for people who manage and lead digital projects. Wow! Lynn, it’s my pleasure to welcome you to the podcast.

LYNN WINTER: Thank you! Thank you! I think you forgot my strawberry picking times.

IVAN: Oh! I had no idea (laughing). Tell me more.

LYNN: That was the critical part of my career.

IVAN: (laughing) Where did you pick strawberries?

LYNN: At Lawrence’s Berry Farm, just outside of Northfield. It was my first, kind of official job after babysitting didn’t work out so well. But, essentially you get up at the crack of dawn and go sit on your hands and knees in the field for like six hours a day.

IVAN: And, why did the babysitting job not work out?

LYNN: Well, I just don’t think I was that great. But there was an incident with twins that were one years old, and, we met the parents at a garage sale once, and my Mom’s like “oh, yea, she can babysit.” And, I think I was a little too young and they were really large children, like 30 lb. each, and so we went out in the yard, and it wasn’t fenced in, that was in the country, and one twin ran to the right and one twin ran to the left, and that was it. I was pretty much done doing that. I didn’t really enjoy that.

IVAN: Well, you know, it’s very iterative. It’s like Agile. You fail fast.

LYNN: (laughing) Yes, it was fast. I mean, I had other babysitting jobs too, but, I realized that really wasn’t enjoyable for me.

IVAN: None of them involved kids being stung by bees or hornets, did they?

LYNN: No. No. Not at that time.

IVAN: So, you’re a native Minnesotan.

LYNN: I am. You betcha.

IVAN: (laughing) Where were you born?

LYNN: I was born in Northfield, Minnesota, which is just about 40 minutes South of the Twin Cities.

IVAN: You know, I’ve never understood that? Why is Northfield South of Minneapolis?

LYNN: Well, North of something right? It’s also named after a guy named Northfield, or North. I should know this, because we had to learn about this in Middle School. I think it’s John Northfield? I feel like a quick Google is in order, but I’ll save that for later.

IVAN: Ok. So, you grew up in Northfield,  and you went to school probably somewhere in Northfield? I know you went to Hamline.

LYNN: I did. Yes. I went to all the schools, the high school and whatnot, and then when it came time to pick college, I could either go with 50 of my classmates and stay at Carlton or St. Olaf or head out of town and try to separate from my parents. (laughing) I clearly didn’t go far enough, because I still saw them about every single week at Hamline, but I tried. I tried to get a little distance.

IVAN: And, what did you end up studying at Hamline?

LYNN: I have kind of a weird background. I got a major in communications, a minor in television production, and another major in chemistry.

IVAN: Wow. I didn’t realize your other major was chemistry. I actually thought that was a minor, but why chemistry?

LYNN: I took all 18 classes for that. I started taking, at a liberal arts college, you have to take a lot of the basic requirements to knock that out, so I took my chemistry and calculus right away to do that. It came very easy to me. So, I just kind of continued on, and I kind of think that was my parents’ major and then I got a major for myself (laughing) and went into communications. But I always had that fallback of chemistry that I never, ever used again.

IVAN: I actually studied chemistry in college as well, for one year. And, I kind of did it as a – I had to fill my class schedule, and chemistry was the class that filled the hole in my schedule, that I kind of just had to do.

LYNN: It fit perfectly? Yea.

IVAN: Yea, it fit perfectly. So, I only did one year of it, but I had an absolute blast doing chemistry.

LYNN: I think it’s fun until the later years, when I got more into production and editing, and I found that a lot of fun, but, as you get further on, you adjust your research in a lab, so I spent a summer at Hamline doing research in the summer out in Montana, doing research, and I realized I was not the kind of person to sit in a cubicle lab, playing with chemicals all day long, not talking to hardly anyone. It just really wasn’t me.

IVAN: It didn’t work out. But your communications background and other major, that allows you to talk to a whole bunch of people all the time.

LYNN: (laughing) It does! In chemistry, I could never communicate, but now, I’m good.

IVAN: Is that how you ended up at TPT? Because your minor was related to video production?

LYNN: I think so. Right out of college I got two internships. One at the Film Board, where I spent most of my time just making copies and answering the phone. And, then I got an internship at Twin Cities Public Television for this Show called “Almanac” which has been around for 30 years maybe. It’s a local, political show. So, I did that.

IVAN: Wait. Thirty years? Hasn’t it been around for like, a hundred? (laughing)

LYNN: (laughing) I don’t think quite that long, but it’s the staple show around there. I really liked that. And, then, they had a couple job openings and I got one as a production scheduler, so I became the crewer for all the different shows that they were doing. So, I booked people in the studio, booked the videographers, the editors, and did all that scheduling for a couple of months. Then, when the woman came back from maternity leave, I got a job as a production manager. So, then I had a career there for about eight years.

IVAN: What does a production manager actually do?

LYNN: In television, you’re in charge of all the details of the project, so I did grant writing, as far as timelines and budgets, I would manage budgets, manage fund relations on a lower level, just reporting kind of stuff, I’d book the crews. Some shows would be in the studio where they would have a bunch of people shooting for a day or two. Some would be documentaries, where they would be shooting in New York, or locally. So, kind of dependent on what they were. Then we also had things called websites back in those days (laughing) that were basically static HTML things that lived and never got touched again after the show aired. So, just a lot of details, getting things delivered to PBS, just tracking down stuff.

IVAN: Project management. Basically, trying to keep all of the balls in the air that you’re juggling, continuously juggling, and making sure everything’s getting done.

LYNN: Exactly.

IVAN: Did the opportunity ever present itself to operate any of the cameras during these production days?

LYNN: Not at TPT, because we are a union house. So everything, audio engineers, editing, camera people, lighting, that was all done by union. So, specific people had to be booked through the union, and then seniority fashion. So, I never did that there. I did do some assistant directing, but that was a non-union role.

IVAN: So, your videography experience and your love of many different Minnesota sports and camera work, that’s different. That didn’t start at TPT.

LYNN: No, it didn’t. I actually got three new jobs right out of college, all in the same week. So, I didn’t learn anybody’s name, and it was super confusing (laughing). But I got a job at a local cable station out on the West Metro, that did high school sports. Then I got a job at the Minnesota Wild, because they just had started their franchise, and I got a job at TPT. And, kind of leading up to that, in the summer right after I graduated, I worked for the St. Paul Saints. So, I got paid 25 bucks to work an entire Saints game, usually out in center field, and that could go for five to six hours. It was amazing!

IVAN: Wow!

LYNN: Those were the days of big money! (laughing)

IVAN: Well, I mean you get to watch the game. Is it true though? Do you get to enjoy the game?

LYNN: It is! Though baseball’s probably my least favorite sport to shoot. But, I’m essentially getting paid to hang out and watch the game.

IVAN: That’s actually kind of cool. It actually sounds like my dream job. I wish I could take pictures of the Twins for example. That would be awesome!

LYNN: It’s not a bad job. Except, it’s also nice to have a hotdog in one hand and a beer in the other (laughing), but that was kind of frowned upon.

IVAN: Ok. So, you’ve done the St. Paul Saints, you did some high school work, and you’ve most recently worked at the Superbowl. So, talk me through how you get from St. Paul Saints to a Superbowl.

LYNN: So, lucky, and knowing somebody, I got right when the Saints season ended, as the Minnesota Wild franchise started out – so that clearly dates how old I am – so in 2000, the Minnesota Wild started their first season. Somebody had called over to the crew at the Saints and said, “we need someone that could work every single game.” I said, “Well, we can because we’re full-time there,” which didn’t last for about six months, and they gave my name, and so I got to start working every single home game, and basically what they called the “utility” which pulls the cable. Well, in football, pulling the cable means you run up and down the entire field, and wrap cable and help someone. In hockey, it means you just stand there and watch the game because there’s only two moments you actually walk on the ice for about 10 steps and then you come back. So, it was this great opportunity, but it was also horrifying. I’ve never really watched hockey, I’ve always been a basketball person, and the first game – in hockey, so many years ago it was very different than it is now – and the first game the refs moved the net aside so that these guys could just beat the crap out of each other and bleed everywhere. It was just horrifying! (laughing)

IVAN: That sounds awful!

LYNN: It is, but it’s very different now (laughing), people care more about their head and being safe and stuff.

IVAN: Go figure!

LYNN: But, you had asked me how I kind of made that transition. So, I started working there, then I started working at the old Metrodome Stadium, doing Gopher sports and football, doing Vikings, I worked Twins there, and so I started adding different sports and adding, the Gophers. So, when the Superbowl came into town, all the folks that were working the Viking games, which I do, we're kind of asked, “Do you want to work for the game?” I think we had about 20 different cameras for just in-house production. So, the only people that saw our work, were the people at the stadium. Then on top of it, there’s hundreds of cameras that go out for broadcasts or national and all these other kind of things. So, I got the pleasure of shooting up high on top of the scoreboard and shooting the entire Superbowl and watching the half-time show. So, it was pretty fun.

IVAN: You said hundreds of cameras. That sounds amazing.

LYNN: It’s kind of amazing, and kind of ridiculous all at the same time to think of how much money goes into a production like that. Also, we rehearsed for about a week, as well as the people that do the half-time show, it’s a whole different group of people, and they did that night and day for weeks. So, the amount of money that goes into such an event is astonishing. So, kind of exciting and kind of sad, when you could think about what we could do with all that money for good.

IVAN: What do you think your most exciting moment has been behind a camera lens?

LYNN: I would definitely say the recent Vikings game this year, when we were in the playoffs, and I’m going to totally forget who caught the ball, but it was a Minneapolis miracle (laughing) and for the last fifteen minutes, we were just being really sad on headset because we knew we we're going to do what we always do and blow it -- the Vikings are going to lose it again. And it was really interesting because next to me I had video people for each team. So they were kind of bantering back and forth and making bets on the game, and so the whole thing was going, the Vikings were kind of losing and then the last throw comes in, the last second, then the first thing I noticed is on the headset, in one ear I have the radio call and in the other ear I have my director, and the radio people start screaming, and then my director starts screaming, and he’s calling a different camera every half a second, just shooting everything, and the whole crowd is just elated. It had to be the most electrifying moment in a sports event that I’ve ever been to. So, I think that’s kind of going to be my peak (laughing) which is sad, I've got a lot of years ago

IVAN: (laughing) I was going to say, now you can retire from camera operator, right?

LYNN: I did do the Final Four when it was here last. And my favorite basketball team of all time won it, and I was on the court, mostly doing nothing, because I was the third utility behind a camera, so my job was just to make sure he could walk through a crowd. So, I got to watch my favorite team and my favorite coach during the national championships. That was pretty cool too.

IVAN: Well, you have to tell us who your favorite team is.

LYNN: Duke Blue Devils. Which I’m sure a lot of people don’t like them (laughing), but I’ve been watching them since I was a little kid.

IVAN: So, that’s your team, and, you recently shot the X Games.

LYNN: I did. For the second year around for ESPN.

IVAN: Do you think that you’ll be available and interested in the Final Four? I believe they’re coming here too.

LYNN: I hope so. I absolutely hope so. Those big events are fun and painful and fun. (laughing)

IVAN: (laughing) Are you afraid of heights?

LYNN: No. Unless I’m jumping out of a plane, but no. (laughing)

IVAN: Ok, so, there’s no problem with actually lugging all your gear up to the top of the scoreboard and setting that up?

LYNN: Once they set it up, like two years ago, they have never moved it again. Where that camera is, on the end zone, it’s on top of the catwalk, so there’s really no safe way to put it up, so I walk up a very steep, like industrial ladder to get there, and then I can look to the ground and see four levels below me. So, they had to use a crane to get the entire system up there because of the weight of it. It stayed there for two years and never moved.

IVAN: Ok. And, do you wear a harness when you’re up there?

LYNN: Sure! (laughing)

IVAN: You should wear a harness, Lynn (laughing)

LYNN: (laughing) I totally do!

IVAN: Ok, good. We’re glad to hear it. So, this whole video production skill you have that you learned, that you implemented for seven years, somehow transferred over to managing websites and projects that you’re building user-centric websites for. I know that Gorton Studios did some work with TPT in the early days, and they did some work for TTBook. We talked to Matthew Tift about that. Is that how you were introduced to Gorton Studios? Through TPT? Or, how did you make that transition over?

LYNN: Yea. That’s exactly what happened. The owner of Gorton Studios, Drew Gorton, used to be my contractor and contracted worked through TPT. So, he had worked with me on educational stuff, department stuff, in a couple different areas, national productions as well, doing stuff building websites. So, he had worked with me that way. I also had one of my old coworkers, Erika Stenrick, who then also moved to Gorton Studios. We worked closely on several national production projects. She was a producer there. And so when a job came up at Gorton Studios, she said, “hey, we need a project manager. We’ve never had one. Do you want to do that?” And so, I thought about it long and hard and then made the jump into digital since TV has grown a lot, but is also a little bit stagnant as well.

IVAN: And when was that?

LYNN: That was in 2008.

IVAN: 2008. And so, you basically found Drupal through Drew and through the websites that they were building?

LYNN: Yea, exactly. I took on a role that they hadn’t done before which is actually a great story, because two people sat down and wrote down all the things they hate about their job, and then they put it into one job description. (laughing) That was my job.

IVAN: (laughing) Really!

LYNN: Yep, no joke.

IVAN: No joke.

LYNN: It turned out it matched up really well with things I was good and interested at, but at the same time, it kind of established this interesting vibe of like, “you’re doing the stuff we hate over there.”

IVAN: And that makes us happy!

LYNN: Yea, it was hard. Because you go into an agency that never has that role and try to find a spot. And that’s always been kind of my struggle in the beginning of getting into the Drupal community, is finding my people and spot in the community. I always kind of think of it like in the television production world, project managers have been around forever. People know exactly how to find you, they respect the role, they know how to hide from you for certain things (laughing), but it was really established, it’s been around for so long. With the web world so new, it doesn’t feel like it, but it is, it’s so infant in where it’s going, the project manager role is just that. And, you have a lot of people in that role that are doing good things, and a lot of people doing bad things, because there’s no formality around it. So, I had a lot of struggle around trying to find my people, and my role in the community, for several years.

IVAN: And, when you first started, it was doing all these things that these other people hate. Some of which you may have loathed or liked. How did that role evolve and how long did it take before you were really owning it and doing what you wanted to be kind of pushing?

LYNN: I don’t know exactly the length. I’m sure it was at least a year. Part of the challenge in the beginning is I went and had a baby, so I started the job pregnant, in my first trimester, which I'd never recommend starting a job when you’re exhausted and trying to figure that out. But, I think it was a while to kind of figure out what are things that make sense, like, should I answer maintenance calls and deal with that even though I have no context. Should I just work on full projects? Then solving problems along the way. So, I really started being nosy and butting my head into different areas. It’s hard to believe for me, but, kind of figuring out how, if I get in there am I helping just myself, or am I helping the team? So, should I do that, or should I shift over here? Then kind of testing and trying new things with clients. Like, here’s this client problem, how do I solve it? Let’s try this thing. All these concerns about financials, how do I solve that problem? Ok, so now there’s all these concerns around content. So, I kind of took time to figure that out and then that’s really what changed my role over the years.

IVAN: You’re very passionate about content and about user experience. Years that we’ve worked with you and collaborated with you, that’s been very clear. When we first met, I thought “Oh, Lynn’s a project manager,” but as soon as you start working together, you realize “oh, yea, she can definitely manage people and projects, but this whole content and user experience thing, this is what she’s passionate about.” At least from my perspective. When did that change?

LYNN: I think after a couple years when I was solving the project management problems like finances, how often do you communicate, where do you communicate, all those things, and that became like “yep, I got this.” Those aren’t those problems anymore. The next problems came into clients aren’t writing content ever, or really stepping into sales, trying to figure out what you need in sales, where you better estimate and figure out their needs. That changed what I started doing. And what happens at a really small agency, in a really great environment, like Gorton Studios was a wonderful place with talented people that allowed you to grow and pushed you, so if there’s something that nobody was doing because there was only five or six or seven of us, depending on what year it was, go and do it. Nobody cared. You could go try that thing. Nobody was doing content strategy. A couple of us were interested in user testing, and a client had those needs. So, let’s go do that over there, and at the same time then we’re solving project problems. So, I just started growing, had the ability to grow different skills that were outside of the project management that I could fit into my day with something I was interested in and then solving problems. I didn’t want to just be like “I’m the person you talk to when you want to know the budget.” Or, you have to track details. I think that makes that role really ineffective. You don’t want to just be the person you figure out the details with, you want the project manager to either have a strength in technical aspect, have a strength in content, a strength in some area to make them integral into the whole conversation.

IVAN: Yea.

LYNN: But I have opinions. (laughing) I just put my opinions out there and it didn’t stop. I couldn’t zip it closed. They just kept coming out.

IVAN: Yes, you do have opinions. I do like that about you. (laughing)

LYNN: (laughing) Sometimes good. Sometimes bad.

IVAN: Never bad. Your opinions are never bad.

LYNN: You should meet my husband, then.

IVAN: (laughter) So, you became quite interested in and really excelled at content strategy, in my opinion, focusing on the user experience. It is interesting that a small agency, as Gorton and as TEN7 which is very comparable, I would consider us very comparable. It does allow you to flex what your skillset is and go down those rabbit holes of “Oh, I might be interested in that and no one is doing it. Let’s see if I could do that.” Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. So, it seems to me like it was, as all things I’ve noticed lately, serendipity and luck and good timing. That’s sometimes how these career paths work out. So, you’re not at Gorton anymore.

LYNN: I’m not.

IVAN: You are on your own. You are still passionate about the user experience and content strategy. You started this thing called Manage Digital. Why another conference?

LYNN: (laughing) That’s what we need in this world! More conferences!

IVAN: (laughing) We do! More conferences! I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean there’s obviously a reason you started this. People have gone to it. You’ve had one successful event. What do you think about the conference? What is the hole you are filling?

LYNN: When I would go to Drupal conferences, and I love it. I love the Drupal community. I love getting to know people, learning, connecting. But, for years, there was nothing for a so-called project manager or even content strategy at a Drupal conference. I think it was not until New Orleans, which I think is the first year they started a project manager track, so that was the best way to start connecting with more people and just seeing that need out there. People are looking to have these conversations to build these mentorships, and it’s really hard to find that anywhere. I have gone to the National DPM Summit, which is a wonderful event. I know the people that put it on, as well as I’ve attended a couple of years, and I think it’s a great event to go to. But because it’s national, it’s expensive. It cost a lot of money for the fee, it cost a lot of money to travel, and you’re also building a national or international network. You’re not necessarily building a community locally. So, just kind of feeling that sense that I’ve always been trying to find more people around here because there isn’t formal training. You learn about Agile or your PMP. But your PMP is not digital PMP, it's everybody's PMP. It's road construction PMP. It's all these things. Then, by the way, you need to spend a bunch of money, and they’re going to give you this big, heavy duty process, which I’m not a big proponent for, and then that’s your structure. That’s how you learn. A good project manager is the stuff in between. It’s not these processes you implement or these documents, it’s the flow in between. So, I really wanted to help support that community and bring them together. Then when I went freelance last summer, I thought, “Well, gosh, I have no excuse anymore. I’ve been thinking about this conference." We have a really strong community in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area, we have 800 people signed up for the local meetup – obviously 800 don’t show up – but we have a good showing of 50 to 100 people every time, so there is a need for people, and more than half are new every time. So, I thought let’s just try it, let’s put some money on the table, ask my husband how much money can we lose to try this (laughing) and say ok, I want to put together a one-day event and the first goal is to network. Find people you can find as a mentor or find people you can confide in, just to complain, or get things off your chest, or just say “hey, I’ve got to do this thing now, because it’s outside the PM role, but I have to do it. How did you do this?” I get those questions all the time. “How do you make this type of weird scope document that I’ve never made before? Can you share something with me?” So, I put together this company called Manage Digital. We had a one-day event. We had 140 people, which I’m pretty stoked about, and we had three national keynotes, two of them have written books. Thank God for connections, right? (laughing)

IVAN: Yes absolutely!

LYNN: Breakout sessions and gave people time to meet each other. And, I kind of gave people, as a good PM would, tasks for the day. People were required to meet one person. At the end of the day, they had to reach out to them within a week and then write down some things that they took away and to implement. So, I tried to run it that way. I was really blessed to learn we had a lot of people that I’ve known over the years kind of help out, help with the design and the website, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, because everything was free, everybody volunteered, to make it happen.

IVAN: The conference was free to attend?

LYNN: No, the conference wasn’t free, but it was really low cost. It was 125 bucks, but it turns out when you put on a conference, food is expensive.

IVAN: Yes, it is! (laughing)

LYNN: (laughing) It was really expensive. So, we have a little money in the bank for next year, but basically, everybody that helped put it on, did it out of the kindness of their heart.

IVAN: And, what about next year? Do you have any details to share about 2019?

LYNN: So, the first thing is people would ask me, “Well, we’re going to do this again? We’re going to do it right? We’re gonna?” I’m like, “well, let me just have a moment to break. Let me think about this.” But, I do want to do another one next year. We did it in May this last year, so it would probably be around the same timeframe, right after DrupalCon, right before people break for summer. But, what I want to do is more networking time during the event. I think we did a little too much of present to people, and I think the key is that there’s so many people in the room that have really interesting things, and so I want to get more people involved and build more relationships on certain topics. I’m not sure exactly how those spots would be figured out, but I kind of got a couple ideas in my head.

IVAN: Are you looking for sponsors?

LYNN: Are you offering? Yes. (laughing)

IVAN: Yes. I would love to have TEN7 be a part of that. I think TEN7 would love to be a part of the Manage Digital conference.

LYNN: That’s great! It’s a great community to grow, and it only helps agencies find new people and grow our community here, so, I think that’s wonderful. Thank you.

IVAN: Well, you heard it here first.

LYNN: Yes, and I’m putting it up on the social channels immediately. (laughing)

IVAN: Do it. Yea, that’s absolutely cool. You could absolutely do that. You talked a little earlier about the fact that you’re really not into the heavy-duty process. How you’re into the flow in between and not big documents. One of the things that I really appreciate about your approach is exactly that – your flexibility – your attention to our clients' needs, and not doing things for the sake of doing things. Being able to change your approach based on what the client’s needs are. Why are you like that? Why do you do that? (laughing)

LYNN: Well, (laughing) I would say I’m like that in all things in life, and I wouldn’t say I started that way. When I started doing project management, when I moved over to digital, I really tried to make a process and I tried to be like, “ok, here’s what we’re going to do. This is how we’re going to do it, and this is when it’s all going to happen.” So, that was great. Then I swayed a lot of times, “but these are the exact steps, so I can figure them out and process them.” But then I had these schedules and processes that didn’t work for the client, or that really pushed my developers and designers to go too fast. Then I was like “I don’t want them to be mad at me. I’ll make it longer.” Then we were not being efficient and saving money. So, I probably spent a good year or two with this whole Richard Pannek philosophy like, “Tell me what I need to know. I’m going to execute my list. I can check off my boxes and then, there, I’ve got the whole world wrapped up in a pretty box and it will solve it.” Until you realize it’s not at all how it works. You also have a wonderful person working side by side with you in every meeting, that’s super helpful, she’s a wonderful designer and she’s flexible and could roll with things. And, over time, I kind of realized when the moments are right to be flexible and when the moments are right not to be. So, I would really say working with her for so many years helped change my personality. Probably not at home, but like in that space, and just realize that a process is simply a framework and that you have to have structure in order to get feedback and responses and move things forward, but you also have to be flexible in order to get the best product and do the right thing for users, the right thing for the client and the right thing for your team. So, I’ve just kind of learned with a lot of trial and error, how to be able to roll with it and being comfortable. I don’t think it’s something when someone starts as a project manager, I don’t think you could be there in the first year or two, you really have to have your structure. Then you realize after a while its all just about relationships. The entire job is about relationships with all people, internal and external, and managing that. I also, after Gorton Studios, I spent a couple years at another company, where I managed the team, and I brought my ideas of process to that team, and what I learned is that process, while wonderful somewhere else, didn’t work with that team. That was also eye-opening for me of realizing while there’s fundamentals you can take everywhere with you, and beliefs and principles, it really changes depending on who’s sitting at the table. If you can’t roll with it, you’re trying to force something and then you’re the PM on the outside, trying to get things done. And, I want to always be the PM on the inside, collaborating with people.

IVAN: It’s a good lesson and reminder to all of us who are working in software, and in any other industry, that really, it’s about the relationships and the interactions between people, and one of the side effects is the product that we produce. You can have the best tools and the greatest processes, and everybody can be doing things according to the playbook, but ultimately, it’s about humans, our interactions and making sure that we have empathy that everybody has something that they’re dealing with in some perspective that they’re coming from and really, we’re just trying to get through those things every day.

LYNN: Absolutely. But I didn’t say empathy to be fair. (laughing) I’m just kidding. I’m supposed to be hard and cold. I’m 100% German, there’s not empathy there. I’m just kidding.

IVAN: Yea, you’re just kidding. (laughing) So, we’ve covered a ton of history and process and how you evolved and all that. I want to ask you what’s your favorite thing right now?

LYNN: Right now? My favorite thing is my ability to learn and grow. In my last position I did a lot of teaching and figuring things out, but right now as a freelancer, I’m working with lots of different agencies, and thus, different clients, and I’m learning so much every single project, because I have to work within new tools and processes, and with people. I feel like there’s a stagnant time for a couple years, and now I just feel rapid information coming in. “No, I’m going to try this, and I’m going to do this, and what about that over there?” So, I’m just having a blast. I feel like this evolution in my content strategy work right now is just growing so much. And, I’m getting to do content strategy about 75% of my time, and it was always a piece for several years, but not my focus. So that’s been nice.

IVAN: We’ve enjoyed working with you so much and are looking forward to the new projects that are on the horizon to keep doing that. So, I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying that part of your job. Well, thank you so much for spending your precious time with me.

LYNN: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

IVAN: So, you’re lynnwintermn on Twitter, Manage Digital Conference is at managedigital.io and your personal website is lynnwintermn.com. That’ll all be on the transcript on the website, so feel free to link to that, or use those links when you visit the site. You’ve been listening to the TEN7 Podcast. Find us online at ten7.com/podcast. And if you have a second, do send us a message. We love hearing from you. Our email address is podcast@ten7.com. Until next time, this is Ivan Stegic. Thank you for listening. 

Ivan Stegic

Founder and President
 
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Ivan Stegic

Words that describe Ivan: Relentlessly optimistic. Kind. Equally concerned with client and employee happiness. Bowtie lover. Physicist. Ethical. Lighthearted and cheerful. Finds joy in the technical stuff. Inspiring. Loyal. Hires smart, curious and kind employees who want to create more good in the world. His favorite things right now: the TEN7 podcast and becoming the next Björn Borg.