Ambitious Women Spotlight Series – Meet Meredith Klee
Running Communications and PR for AdRoll didn’t happen overnight for Meredith. Leadership has been a journey, full of twists and turns, and plenty of learning opportunities along the way. She credits her manager for always having her back, as well as the company for empowering her, motivating her, and making her career goals reachable.
How has your career grown at NextRoll?
When I started at NextRoll, I was the first employee with deep experience in PR, which had its own opportunities and challenges. Because my role was new, I spent a lot of time identifying gaps and educating others on what PR is – how do we work together, why does PR matter, what do I need to do my job and vice versa. Building the foundation was really critical and continues to be an ongoing process, so my role continues to evolve as we uncover new areas for success and improvement. From this process, I was able to identify different areas where I could lend my expertise and started to over time take on my role and provide more input than just traditional media and PR. The company has grown and evolved a ton since I’ve started, and the industry and world at large has changed as well, so our messaging and narratives have had to evolve with them which keeps my job interesting.
What’s been your favorite project at NextRoll?
My favorite project was getting AdRoll’s messaging and media narrative off the ground. When I started, no one was consistent with how they talked about the business, and with the business evolving and growing, it became even more critical for everyone to be rowing in the right direction. I spent a lot of time digging into the market, the product, our history, and our differentiators, and created a comprehensive messaging playbook that mapped out our positioning both internally and externally. It was a great exercise because I got to flex my expertise, and I got to work with key stakeholders on the project which helped me build important relationships early on in my journey.
It was a big undertaking and is something that will continue to evolve over time, but the fact that we now all have something to map back toward for the first time, was really exciting to own and create. It was a great project that turned my needs and expertise into an asset that was necessary for the entire org.
How do you balance work and life?
I’ve never been someone who lives to work, and for a long time I thought that was a bad thing. I was under the impression that working hard and being successful meant working all the time, even if I didn’t have work to do. Silicon Valley is guilty of this, in my opinion because of the demands of growing a startup, but over time I learned that I could be just as productive, in fact more, if I buckled down and got through my days during normal business hours. Obviously there are caveats and I’ve had my fair share of late nights, but by mastering prioritizing and focusing, I’ve been able to make time for life outside of work. I’ve also allowed myself to not feel guilty if one day is easier or slower than the other, that’s normal and OK!
Work from home has obviously blurred these lines more than before, but I try to stick to a routine as much as I can. The benefit of WFH now is that if I find myself hitting a wall, I feel empowered to take breaks to workout or go for a walk to refresh my mood and mind – vs power through or procrastinate. I also learned early on in my career that you set a precedent if you’re “always on” so I’m cautious of that. I keep Slack on at all times because I like to be in the know and it helps me not be so bombarded with pings in the morning, but I don’t respond if it’s late or I’ve signed off for the day. My motto is always know what’s going on, and then work to get through your task list in chunks each day.
What words do you live by?
“Assume Positivity.” It’s very easy in work, and in life, to take things personally or assume the worst. We often play out different scenarios in our heads when something happens, and the majority of the time, they’re all negative scenarios. A mentor and former coach of mine told me a while back that it’s always better to assume positivity first and go from there.
Assuming positivity, or what I also call flipping the script, has helped me so much in managing people and checking in on projects. Especially with tough conversations, leading with positive intent helps the other person to be open and not defensive because you’re going in with good intentions. If I don’t hear from someone on a project I don’t assume they’re not working on it and slacking off – which silence can signal when you’re a manager – instead, I assume they’re busy and forgot to check in. “Hey I know you’re on top of x, what’s the latest and how can I help” vs “Hey I haven’t heard from you on x. Have you started yet? What’s the status.” Or, another scenario, if you have inter dialogue like this: “I wish this person would do x more.” Rather than get frustrated, flip it around. “I wonder why this person isn’t doing x. Are they overwhelmed? Do they need help? How can we collaborate more and how can I get what I need?” It’s a little tweak that can go a long way for you and your team.
It’s also super helpful in your personal life too. Someone doesn’t text you back, assume positivity, they’re busy and they will. It’s very easy to make ourselves the center of the universe, so we have to train our brains to give people a chance and have some perspective. A little positivity goes a long way!
What’s your superpower?
Precision question and answering, it’s a method for improving your communication efficiency and critical thinking. So many of our conversations could be more impactful and efficient if we did simple things to fix them. By using frameworks like answer + one and leading with questions vs context, I’m able to get to the root of what we’re doing and why to help pave the right path forward. It’s not an easy skill (I had to be trained on it) and isn’t something everyone knows how to do, so learning how to leverage it and how to help others do it is something I love to do. It’s a powerful skill in your personal and professional life once you know when and how to use it.