JANUARY 27, 2021
While we’re working from home, it’s easy to disconnect from who we’re working with. So, we’re firing up Slack and catching up with Wilbert team members as they serve their clients remotely. Welcome to Wilbert From Home.
Sarah Weston is a Vice President serving clients like Atlantic Station, Halcyon, JLL, and RocaPoint Partners, while providing inspiring leadership to all of us at The Wilbert Group. Sarah is the kind of leader who is totally focused on the development, happiness, and well-being of her team. She tackles any project with drive and optimism and is a huge Parks & Rec fan.
First question! I just started rewatching Parks & Rec and you recently said you just finished watching through it again! If you had to describe yourself with 3 Parks & Rec characters, who would you pick and why?
Obviously Leslie Knope has a lot of admirable qualities. I think, like her, I’m hard working, eternally optimistic, encouraging, loyal and perhaps my ideas and energy are a little overwhelming at times for some people. I wish I could say I was as cool as, like, Donna or Tom, but I think I’m more like Ben: he’s kind of a nerd, but really he’s always trying to better himself. He started out as an 18yr old mayor and worked hard to prove himself, and he ended up being a congressman.
That answer is so well thought out and very accurate for you. Have you come up with any “best practices” for working at home?
Best practices are starting and ending at a set time; time blocking; and making time each morning to read the news, listen to podcast, etc.
Also going outside periodically during the day. It's so important to step away for a moment and get some fresh air.
I’ve also started doing intermittent fasting, which has really helped my schedule. I’m not mindlessly eating while working 2 feet from my kitchen, and instead I’m eating outside at noon, if possible.
Creating structure for yourself at home is such great advice, especially when kids are involved! What is a memory with your son that you’ll definitely be reminding him of his whole life?
Well, he’s only 1, so we have a whole year of firsts to remind him; but I think in general – just how tough he is. He wore a helmet for 5 months and was in the hospital for RSV in March and then COVID happened and we had to basically get to know grandparents through screens. I know we’re so blessed to have a healthy baby, and he’s been really tough and resilient through all of this, so I think that is our big takeaway.
Nope, I’m definitely not crying.
This one we actually stole from you! What is one thing you’ve taught yourself in the past months since working from home started?
Not work-related: We decided to try a DIY balloon garland for Walker’s birthday. It turned out really cute!
Work-related: Online-only communication is so tough. So, through all this, I’ve been reminded to over communicate with clients and team members to ensure there's nothing lost in translation. I miss the energy in the office so much, so I have tried to teach myself how to translate that better through Slack/email/Zoom
That garland was so impressive!
So true, communication can definitely be taken for granted when we’re in person.
You are the first VP at Wilbert that we have interviewed and I’d love to ask you a leadership question! What would be your first piece of advice to someone just starting to lead a team?
My first piece of advice to anyone starting out in leadership would be to consider how important 360 degrees of trust is (and confidence go hand-in-hand in this). Trust yourself and your gut, trust the people you’re leading to do their jobs (and also give them room to grow) and trust those who put you there; you’re there for a reason.
Confidence in yourself, your abilities, your team – this is key. If you’re having imposter syndrome, just remember that someone saw something in you and put you in this position. Fake the confidence until you truly believe it if you need to, but have faith in yourself.
And if I can offer one more piece of advice: celebrate wins – big and small – for your account teams!
This is incredibly valuable advice but also so encouraging to hear. Thank you!
As you know, we give out “Gratitude Stickers” to people on our staff we were thankful for each week. Is there a “Gratitude Sticker” which someone gave to you and has stuck out to you? One that you’ve given to someone else?
The Gratitude Sticker Wall is one of my favorite things we do. It brings our culture of kindness to life and helps shine the light on everyone. This has been especially important through this WFH period. There are people I am on NO accounts with, but I love hearing how they’re stepping up and doing incredible things. The stickers that I’ve received that stick out the most aren’t about work; they’re from people who are thanking me for helping them be less stressed or grow professionally or get outside of their comfort zone. The ones I’ve given that stand out are when people reach across account teams for big picture ideas, collaborations; such as when Adam asked the ES team to participate in a GOCU webinar; Britni pulled together three accounts for a charitable giving opportunity; or when Haley helped place three accounts in a large trend story
This has definitely been such a great part of the culture here at Wilbert. I’ve noticed that you always give at least three heartfelt stickers and I think that’s an inspiring way to lead.
What is your favorite question to ask people?
This actually sounds rude, but really, our job as PR people is to figure out the "so what?" It challenges people to show, and not just tell, why something is important/relevant/timely. It's always a question we ask ourselves, and it's a question we should continuously ask our clients ... because journalists, social media followers and other audiences will ask themselves that question about irrelevant content.
How have you seen yourself grow during your time with Wilbert?
Since Wilbert acquired my firm in 2017, I’ve definitely grown in many ways. Caroline sets a great example of a leader: she’s transparent and honest, and she trusts people to do their job. I think with that trust and guidance, I’ve been able to grow as a PR person, as a leader and really, as a person. My confidence in the work we're doing – and in myself – has grown each day, as we continue to think beyond the obvious and add real value to our clients. As Caroline says, (or her mom really) – everyone is carrying their own bag of rocks, so that has helped be a good reminder about giving everyone a little grace and even more compassion.
Essentially, I've been pushed to grow in many ways because everyone here is just so smart and creative. I've so enjoyed pushing my own boundaries to try new things – whether that's on the media side or trying things with the brand design team.
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